Students from several suburban schools got a chance to play against Chicago Bears players past and present during a fundraiser Tuesday night.
Students from the Palatine Amateur Football Association and Hawthorn Middle School South in Vernon Hills mingled, ate, played laser tag and bowled against some of their favorite Bears players at Brunswick's in Buffalo Grove as part of the Bears Bowl 2013 annual fundraiser for Bears Care charities.
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"The kids are going nuts, they are in heaven over here," said Kollin Kolowski, president of the Palatine Amateur Football Association. "The players have been very welcoming and gotten in the lanes with them. This is a memory the kids will never forget."
Some of the kids were even picking up new tips from the players.
"One of the Bears players showed me how to do a curve ball," said Tommy Elter, 7 of Palatine.
Others were happy to get their footballs and T-shirts signed by current players including Kyle Long and famous former players such as Gale Sayers.
"I love to get to spend time with the fans and everyone has been so nice," Long said. "We don't have practice Wednesday so we can really let loose and have fun with it."
Long said he enjoyed talking to Bears fans at the event, even those who had some constructive criticism about the team's play.
"It's great when we're given the opportunity to have outreached and get into the community," he said. "With Bears Care we have the chance to give back."
For former players it was a chance to catch up and see one another while giving back.
"The nice part is we still all like each other," joked former Bear Dan Hampton. "We are a part of the Bear family, so it's nice for us to come out and do what we can to give back."