Kansas City Chiefs all-time leading tackler Derrick Johnson hosted his fourth annual "Celebrity Waiter Night" benefiting his Defend the Dream Foundation at the Grand Street Café in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday night. In total, the evening raised $110,000 on the evening.
Johnson and 14 of his teammates, including Dontari Poe, Alex Smith, Charcandrick West, among others, served as actual waiters for the guests in attendance on a night that included a silent auction, a live auction and other games.
"Man it's awesome," Johnson said. "Celebrity Waiter Night caters to any inner-city kids through education and it's all about giving back and giving the core values that I grew up on. That's making sure education is important, having a good attitude and always doing you best."
The foundation uses the funds raised at Waiter Night for two main initiatives—DJ's Discovery Dens and Gearing Up! Together. According to Defend the Dream, these programs have resulted in nine reading oases containing 10,800 age appropriate books, and 300 kids receiving school supplies before heading back to school.
"The Voice of the Chiefs," Mitch Holthus, played host to the evening's events for the fourth consecutive year.
"The cause is awesome," Holthus said. "Derrick has such a heart for education with his mom being a career educator and he has made an impact in Kansas City building his reading labs and specifically for schools that need it the most.
"We continue to talk about funding for schools in all places throughout the Chiefs Kingdom, but Derrick makes it real. The work he has done particularly for the inner-city reading areas and reading labs, so that the Defend the Dream Foundation is profound."
Kansas City Chiefs all-time leading tackler Derrick Johnson hosted his fourth annual ???Celebrity Waiter Night??? benefiting his Defend the Dream Foundation.
Newcomer to Kansas City, offensive lineman Mitch Schwartz, shared Holthus' feelings on the event.
"Any time you can go out and help kids, help individuals that need it, it's a really good opportunity," Schwartz said. "It's really cool to see people who take the initiative and I know a lot of people like to help, want to help, but to actually go out and do it and start something like that, it shows a lot of commitment on his part."
During the event, Dr. Anthony Lewis, the director of elementary education for Kansas City Public Schools, spoke to just how effective the program has become, specifically citing examples of two children he has seen positively impacted firsthand.
Established in 2012, the mission of Derrick Johnson's Defend the Dream Foundation to provide low income and inner city young people with opportunities and resources to reach their full potential. The goal of Derrick Johnson's Defend the Dream Foundation is to impact the lives of more than 100,000 at-risk Kansas City children by the end of 2019.