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It’s no illusion: Celebrity friends say Fitzgerald really is that philanthropic

Larry Fitzgerald talking to the media at his 9th annual Fitz Supper Club funraiser at Dominick’s Steakhouse, Monday, August 28, 2017, Scottsdale, AZ. (Cronkite News/ Jamie Nish)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Patrick Peterson. Carson Palmer. Marshall Faulk. John Salley.

Respect for Larry Fitzgerald extends beyond the football field. When the Cardinals wide receiver asked for support for his ninth annual Fitz’s Supper Club, his fellow athletes delivered.

Monday at Dominick’s Steakhouse, supporters enjoyed an evening filled with entertainment along with a four-course dinner and spirits served by Fitzgerald’s teammates and other celebrity friends.

The event benefited Fitzgerald’s First Down Fund, which supports programs for kids and families in crisis, as well as health-related organizations. Fitzgerald said the event has a special place in his heart.

“To be able to do it for nine years, it really means a lot to me,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s humbling that we can continue to have this type of support from my coaches. My teammates come, and I love the fact that we can do this and raise money for the people in our community.”

The event has had a significant impact on the community, Fitzgerald said, and continues to evolve each year.

“Every single year we’ve gone up in terms of proceeds we’ve raised,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve done a great job of helping different charitable organizations that are in need, so with the money that we raise we’re able to help breast cancer foundations and also youth organizations that are going to wonderful causes.”

Whether it is a celebrity softball game or golf tournament, it can be difficult to keep up with Fitzgerald’s charity events. He said Fitz’s Supper Club is different from the rest because it allows him to be up close and personal with the guests.

“I like the intimacy of this one,” Fitzgerald said. “We have 240 people that are here this evening. My softball event, we have eight or nine thousand people in attendance, so this one I like that I get the chance to know pretty much everybody that’s in attendance.”

Each year, the event has a different theme. Last year, it was comedy. This year, Fitzgerald decided to shift to magic, with the theme title, “The Grand Illusion.” Fitzgerald brought in Illusionist Darcy Oake to perform.

“It’s smaller, intimate style shows where you have a direct connection with the people I find that are a lot more artistically rewarding than doing like a mass venue where you can’t see the people and everything, so this is right in my wheelhouse,” Oake said.

Fitz’s Supper Club started being held at Dominick’s Steakhouse four years ago, and restaurant co-owner, Jeffrey Mastro, said he envisions this partnership with Fitzgerald as something that will continue for many more years.

“I hope so, because he’s very charitable and he has his foundation,” Mastro said. “He’s going to want to continue to make money for his foundation and do all the good stuff he does, so absolutely.”

Being able to give back to the community is something Fitzgerald said he loves doing and believes NFL players have a great platform.

“It’s really important,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s the same kids that I see on the sidelines and in the crowds wearing Patrick Peterson, and David Johnson, and Carson Palmer, and Tyrann Mathieu jerseys. They’re the same kids that you want to help and support because they’re supporting you doing your job. That’s what it’s all about, just giving back.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Palmer echoed Fitzgerald’s sentiments and said he sets a positive example for the rest of his teammates.

“He’s up on a pedestal when it comes to being the team leader and what you aspire for all your younger players to become,” Arians said. “Watching this thing grow all the years I’ve been here and busting numbers every single year, it’s a great high-mark for all the other players to try to aspire to become and do what Larry does in this community. Patrick (Peterson)’s doing it. We’ve got some young guys that are starting foundations, and it’s a really good benchmark for all of them to follow.”

“He’s been such a role model,” Palmer added.

All his celebrity friends agree.

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