Days after the dedication of a Pro Football Hall of Fame project boosted and named in part by Ralph Wilson, Jr., the Wilson family and Buffalo Bills have again lent their generous support to the Hall.
Mary Owen, the Bills Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning, co-chaired the Chicago Salute to Greatness which kicked off on Monday night. Presented by Buffalo's own New Era, the two-day Salute sought to raise funds and awareness for the Hall and its many endeavors during its 50th anniversary year.
Owen headed up a group of Bills representatives including President/CEO Russ Brandon, former head coach and Hall of Famer Marv Levy, Senior Vice President of Business Development Bruce Popko, and Mary Wilson, the wife of the Bills owner and Hall of Famer.
"Mr. Wilson is very invested in the Hall of Fame, and our Bills contingent is really doing this on behalf of him," said Owen, a member of the Hall's National Advisory Board. "We want to put the Hall of Fame on a platform and help people hear the stories of these players and think about the Hall of Fame."
The Salute began with a dinner program and auction on Monday, followed by Tuesday's golf outing and awards ceremony dinner. Notable Hall of Fame attendees included former Chicago Bears stars Dan Hampton and Richard Dent, as well as Jarrett Payton, the son of the late Walter Payton. The event was partnered with the Make A Wish Foundation to impact the Chicago community and further support the Hall's positive core values.
Wilson has been a strong supporter of the Hall of Fame's "Future 50 Project," which celebrates the Hall's 50th anniversary and seeks to prepare the museum for the next 50 years. Legendary Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath was on hand his weekend to celebrate the dedication of the $27 million expansion and renovation, of which the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center is a part of. The state-of-the-art center houses and preserves more than 20 million documents and three million photos and was unveiled with Wilson in attendance last August.
The Hall is planning for the largest gathering of all-time greats this summer as it brings over 130 Hall of Famers together for the 2013 enshrinement and celebration of its 50th anniversary and Future 50 Project.