Gala dinner raises big money for charity

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It started as a golf tournament in 2007. Now, the event run by former Michigan football players Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson has turned into much more.

The 2012 Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children's Hearts banquet gala took place Saturday evening at the Al Glick Fieldhouse and the building usually reserved for Michigan football practice ended up for one night as a place for major fundraising.

The dinner unofficially raised around $500,000 through its live auction and $1,000 football toss on Saturday night. That figure does not include money raised from a silent auction of other prizes.

The live auction prize with the highest bid was a weekend in Green Bay, Wis. to see a Packers game from former Michigan Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson's seats, dinner with Woodson and a tour of Lambeau Field. After discussion, Woodson gave away two of the packages at $21,000 each.

Woodson, Griese and Hutchinson have chaired the weekend for multiple years and were also given another honor Saturday for their years of work.

The three now have a seating area in one of the gardens at the Mott Children's Hospital named after them. The garden is where patients and families often gather while patients are in the hospital.

"That was unexpected," Griese said. "On behalf of Charles and Steve, we continue to be humbled by the support we receive from all of you. It means the world to us to be a part of Mott Children's Hospital in this way. It is truly an honor."

The event began Friday with a 12-hour radio telethon and concludes Sunday with a golf tournament at the University of Michigan golf course.