Friday, April 25, 2008
The Spirit of the Fire Moves On
Tomorrow's Chicago Fire game will mark the last day Donald Ortale will be paid to work for the Chicago Fire and the FireWorks For Kids Foundation. Donald is the Fire's long time Senior Director of Community Relations, CEO of the FireWorks For Kids Foundation and to many people represented the positive spirit of the Chicago Fire.
Donald is moving on to another position in the non-profit world, but it will not be the last day he works for either the Fire or the Foundation as he will stay on as a board member of the Foundation and i'm sure he'll find ways to continue his support of the team. Working to advance the Fire and the Foundation was never about compensation for Donald anyway. In fact, he worked to promote the Fire for a couple years before he was paid to do so through his position with the American Lung Association.
During my job interview with Phil Anschutz in 1997, he told me that if i got the Fire's GM position, i must create a charitable arm to give back to the community. Along with Jessica Yavitz, who will succeed him, Donald took the mantle that Mr. Anschutz, Denise Wilmer and i gave him eight years ago and built the Fire's community relations department and charitable arm into the most effective and respected in Major League Soccer.
He and his department have been honored several times by MLS, but his proudest honor is the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame's 2002 Pro Team Community Award. The Fire received this award over every other professional sports team in the United States for the way it handled its move to Naperville in the community.
Donald, like many others the last few years, will now carry the spirit of the Fire elsewhere in Chicagoland and it will be the responsibility of others to pick up his heavy load, continue his good works and most importantly, carry on his spirit within the Fire.