Pensacola has a proud tradition of turning out football greats.
Now, several of those favorite sons are joining forces to help invest in the early educational opportunities of the children of this community.
Led by Catholic High School graduate and Studer Community Institute board member Josh Sitton, the Light Up Learning fundraiser is set for June 22 at Sanders Beach Corinne Jones Community Center beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The event will include live music, early learning inspired food, live and silent auctions and more.
Sitton, drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2008 and part of the Packers team that beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, is the driving force behind the fundraiser. He signed a three-year contract with the Bears in 2016.
Several of Sitton's professional friends and colleagues have donated signed memorabilia to the cause of helping fund SCI's efforts to give parents the tools and advice they need to support the healthy growth and development of their child's brain in the first three years of life.
Auction items include:
— A trip for two to Chicago to see a Bears home game as Sitton’s guest, including sideline passes, airfare, hotel, VIP helicopter tour and more.
— A private dinner for 12 prepared at SoGourmet by Union Public House chef Blake Rushing.
— Autographed merchandise from Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Bubba Watson and many more.
So, too, has Patrick Elebash of Elebash Jewelers donated this stunning $5,000 18-karat white gold diamond pendant with white and natural pink diamonds.
Sitton is not the only famous son of Pensacola who will be on hand to participate in the June 22 event. Joining Sitton at the event, will be:
— Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and Gulf Breeze native Doug Baldwin. Baldwin was an undrafted free agent from Stanford University selected by the Seahawks in 2011, and was part of the team that won Super Bowl XLVIII.
— Fred Robbins, Tate High graduate, played for 12 years in the NFL. Robbins played at Wake Forest University and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2000. He played for the New York Giants and was part of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII championship team. He ended his career with the St Louis Rams. His Pensacola philanthropy, Mr. Robbins Neighborhood, provides guidance and mentorship to young athletes.
— Former Green Bay Packers All-Pro linebacker AJ Hawk. When Hawk retired in 2017, he was the Packers’ all-time leading tackler.
— Chicago Bears running back and 2017 Pro Bowler Jordan Howard, who ran for more than 1,300 yards last year.
— Cody Whitehair, starting center for Chicago Bears. Whitehair was a 2016 second round draft pick who was named to the Pro Football Writer’s Association All-Rookie Team.
— 1993 Heisman Trophy winner and 11-year National Basketball Association veteran Charlie Ward. Ward was a standout quarterback at Florida State University, where he won the Heisman Trophy, and was a standout basketball player. He played for the New York Knicks from 1994-2004.
— Matt Flynn, a quarterback who was in Sitton’s draft class in Green Bay. Flynn was Super Bowl champion and starting quarterback for 2007 Louisiana State University National Championship team.