A night to do something good
On July 21, Ryan Dempster’s coaches and teammates, along with members of the Cubs front office and about 700 fans, family and friends, circled the wagons around his foundation during a fun casino night and concert fund-raiser at the House of Blues.
More than $225,000 was raised during the night, which was dedicated to “striking out” DiGeorge syndrome, which affects a child’s ability to swallow and digest food. Dempster’s daughter, Riley, was diagnosed with DiGeorge just days after her birth but has progressed marvelously in the 14 months since.
DiGeorge syndrome, also known as the 22q11.2 deletion or Velo-cardiofacial syndrome (VCFS), is caused by a very small missing piece (microdeletion) of chromosome 22. The deletion is present from the time a child is conceived and is generally found in every cell of the body. But with the potential for 186 different symptoms, it is often hard to diagnose.
For the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation, Riley’s progress is proof enough that there is hope to beat DiGeorge and help other families dealing with the genetic disorder.
Ryan’s wife, Jenny, concurred.
“It’s amazing to see how far she’s come. I wouldn’t have thought it a year ago, but we had faith and she’s a tough little girl. We just want to share her story so that other parents, when they get the diagnosis, they know there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
The night featured players and coaches taking turns at dealing blackjack, roulette and craps. Also helping out to raise money were the many people and companies that donated auction items, including a bass-fishing boat, and autographed jerseys, photographs and other sports and music memorabilia.
“It’s a great cause,” Ryan said. “It creates incredible awareness, and it’s a lot of fun. It really is. And it’s a great party, as everybody will leave here with a smile on their face I’m sure and realize that they can be a part of what we’re trying to do.”
The night was capped off with a concert featuring Jaron and The Long Road to Love and the country-western chords of Gary Allan.
Visit the Vine Line site on cubs.com to read our cover story on the Dempster family’s goal to strike out DiGeorge syndrome and to subscribe today.