Charity Wins Big at Driver Softball

In front of a record crowd of more than 8,000, the defense beat the offense 18-16 during Sunday's Donald Driver Charity Softball Game. The game, however, wasn't the big story.

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. — The defense beat the offense in Donald Driver's annual charity softball game on Sunday afternoon, but Driver's foundation was the overwhelming winner.

Fox Cities Stadium — home of the Milwaukee Brewers' Class A team, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers — was filled on a sun-splashed day. Before belting a home run, Driver said he hoped to raise as much as $275,000.

"It's been truly a blessing when you start thinking about all the things that have happened over the years, how this has transitioned to be more and more successful, and you appreciate it," said Driver, hosting the game for the fourth time after taking over for Brett Favre.

A whopping 8,349 fans saw the defense hold off the offense 18-16. More than an hour before the game, signs outside the parking lot proclaimed the game a sellout. Smoke and the smell of brats and burgers filled the air. Inside, there were standing ovations for Driver and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, as well as "Go Pack Go" chants.

And it was all for a good cause, the Donald Driver Foundation.

"We have helped over 75 families transition from homeless shelters to apartment houses," Driver said. "We pay subsidized utilities for them from six months to a year. And we started a scholarship program about two years ago where we give any kid that's in a two- or a four-year college, we give them a $1,000 scholarship. They have to maintain a 3.0 GPA while they're in college."

Driver went on and on with the good deeds funded by this game. There's a computer scholarship for a child in a homeless shelter. There's "Blessings in the Backpack," an organization that Driver's foundation joined. Kids at five schools who receive free lunches have the opportunity to eat on the weekend, too.

"What we do is, we give those kids a backpack with food to be able to provide food for their families on weekends that they can be able to eat," Driver said. "Then on Monday, they give that backpack back to the school and fill it back up on the next Friday, so they take it home and they give their family the opportunity to have plenty of food to eat. And it only costs $80 for one child for a year."

With the lockout, the game didn't draw a huge list of big-name players. Rodgers, Ryan Grant, Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, Andrew Quarless Jermichael Finley, Nick Collins, Frank Zombo, Mason Crosby and Tim Masthay were the front-line players in attendance on Sunday. Charles Woodson was on the roster and his name was read during introductions but he was a no-show.

Still, Driver was thrilled at the participation, which included rookies D.J. Williams, Ricky Elmore, Davon House and D.J. Smith.

"I just picked up the phone and made some phone calls, sent some e-mails out, and guys did not hesitate, guys jumped on," Driver said. "About two weeks ago, I had my big celebrity weekend in Dallas, Texas, that we normally do every year for my charity. Guys showed up there, and guys were telling me, if I don't see you in that one, I'll see you in Appleton. Everyone showed up, and it wasn't hard. I think that's one thing about our players, we're a big family. You pick up the phone, and if you need a guy, they always seem to show up."

As for the game, Driver's son, Cristian, gave the offense a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI single. The defense countered with a four-run second and twice built nine-run leads but survived when Tom Crabtree flied out as the potential winning run.

The offense hit seven homers: two by Rodgers and one each by Matt Flynn, T.J. Lang, Bulaga, Driver and Crabtree. The defense hit five homers: two by Masthay and one each from Collins, Elmore and Zombo. Bulaga dethroned Flynn as the winner of the home run derby.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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