Former Kansas guard Mario Chalmers returned to Lawrence late Friday night to kick off a weekend of fundraising events for The Mario V. Chalmers Foundation that will culminate with his annual golf tournament on Monday at The Jayhawk Club Golf Course.
Chalmers, the hero of KU’s 2008 national championship team who recently signed a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies after being out of basketball to rehab an Achilles’ injury for more than a year, on Friday hosted a VIP wine tasting event at The Oread, where he released his signature wine, “Vernard” by Schnaer Family Wines, and included a live auction and awards presentation.
Friday’s featured award, The Heart of a Champion Award, was given to Scott “Scooter” Ward, KU’s associate athletic director for academic and career counseling who oversees academics for the KU men’s hoops and women’s volleyball teams, who last fall and winter battled a major health scare after twice suffering a torn aorta. Ward, who has been in a wheelchair since becoming paralyzed after a slip-and-slide accident during his freshman year of college, flashed his signature toughness to come back stronger than ever and last week was with the Kansas basketball team as they toured Italy for four exhibition games abroad.
The Friday event was just the start of the fun, as Chalmers will host a bowling extravaganza for families from 2-4 p.m. today at Royal Crest Lanes, 933 Iowa Street.
Monday’s golf tournament, which will raise money toward the Mario V. Chalmers Foundation’s initial pledge of $25,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence’s Teen Center, will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will be the highlight of a weekend designed to raise money for Chalmers’ foundation, which lists as its mission statement: “To create and support community based programs that encourage the positive development of youth through sports and education and fund initiatives for breast cancer/cancer research and treatment.”
Despite leaving Lawrence following the 2007-08 KU basketball season, Chalmers has returned often and focused a large portion of his philanthropic efforts on the city he called home for his three years of college basketball.
For more information about any of this weekend’s events, or to donate, visit the foundation’s web site at MarioVChalmersFoundation.org.