Mongo Bowl celebrates new Bears hall of famer as he battles ALS

The spirit of 76 was strong Sunday at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

The Arcada was one of two suburban venues — along with the Des Plaines Theatre — to host “Mongo Bowl” fundraisers on Super Bowl Sunday for No. 76, Chicago Bears great and new Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve “Mongo” McMichael.

The money raised at the events will help pay for 24/7 nursing care for McMichael, who is battling ALS.

Both theaters screened a replay of the 1986 Super Bowl between the Bears and the New England Patriots, with viewers enjoying the game despite already knowing the outcome.

In honor of McMichael, those working at the Arcada wore T-shirts bearing his number. Mongo memorabilia also was on display at the theater. Other attendees wore Devin Hester jerseys — the Bears kick returner also announced last week as member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.

Ron Onesti, president of the Arcada and the Des Plaines theaters, said he was with McMichael and McMichael’s wife, Misty, at their Homer Glen home when she informed him of the induction.

“He pretty much communicates by blinking his eyes,” Onesti said. “Yes is a blink. And he was blinking like he had smoke in his face. He was so happy. You could tell. You could actually see his face light up.”

“I know the NFL is going to provide him with a private plane and an ambulance to get him there at the induction ceremonies,” Onesti continued. “So we’re all just crossing our fingers and hoping he gets to feel the love and respect that he so deserves.”

Tony Farinella of West Chicago watches the 1986 Super Bowl on the big screen at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles during the Mongo Bowl. The event, also held Sunday at Des Plaines Theatre, was a fundraiser for former Chicago Bear Steve “Mongo” McMichael, who is battling ALS. Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

Onesti said last year’s Mongo Bowl raised about $20,000. However, he said McMichael is about $60,000 short of what he needs to afford the round-the-clock nursing care at home.

Claudia and Bill Gruber of Naperville were among the friends of Steve McMichael attending the Mongo Bowl fundraiser Sunday at Arcada Theatre in Saint Charles. Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

Misty McMichael was not on hand for the fundraiser Sunday, because she was in Las Vegas representing her husband at the Super Bowl.

The event drew fans who have cherished memories of the 1985 Bears, including Bloomingdale resident Stan Lic. His favorites include William “The Refrigerator” Perry’s touchdown.

Michael and Valerie Vega of South Elgin check out silent auction items Sunday during the Mongo Bowl fundraiser for Steve “Mongo” McMichael at the Arcada Theatre in Saint Charles. Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

Friends of the McMichaels, Bill and Claudia Gruber of Naperville, were there as well.

Bill recalled a funny story about inviting McMichael to a White Sox game when Bill and Claudia’s daughter was just barely one year old. At one point, McMichael was holding her and then put her down on the floor.

Karie Angell Luc/for the Daily Herald This raffle item was made by Michael Costanza from Hickory Hills. Taken at Mongo Bowl, A Fundraiser for Steve “Mongo” McMichael on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024 at the Arcada Theatre in Saint Charles.

“And she crawled toward the doorway out of the skybox. Just as she got to the threshold, in came crawling a one-year-old boy. The two one-year-olds went nose to nose. And in came the father. And Steve went over and stood over him and said, ‘I want to know what your son’s intentions are.’”

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