Jim and Ellen Tressel were the guests of honor Sunday night at the special Cherish The Moment gala supporting the Kids & Kamp charity at Cameron Mitchell’s M in downtown Columbus.
Jim and Ellen Tressel were honored at a special fundraiser Sunday
The event attracted more than 300 guests and raised in excess of $30,000 for the charity, which provides camp experiences for children stricken with cancer and other serious diseases.
Ellen Tressel was recognized for her work with the charity. As it turned out, she had a surprise for her husband and the former Ohio State head coach. She worked with the charity to have 13 of Tressel’s favorite players from his 10-year run as the OSU coach.
The players came from all over the country to honor their coach. The group included Mike Doss, Troy Smith, Malcolm Jenkins, Anthony Gonzalez, Dane Sanzenbacher, James Laurinaitis, Santonio Holmes, Donnie Nickey, Ben Hartsock, Cie Grant, A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Ted Ginn Jr.
Each of the players took turns sharing a favorite moment from their time with Tressel at Ohio State as well as a testimonial for their coach. Craig Krenzel, who was unable to attend, provided a video in support of the coach.
“Ellen and the people from Kids & Kamp kind of tricked me here tonight,” Tressel said. “I didn’t know that any of them were here. Ellen told me it was her last year as the honorary chair. They were going to give her an award. I said, ‘Let’s go, we’ve got to be there.’ Wow, she got me again.
“Those are pretty special guys. They loved their time at Ohio State and it was an honor to be a part of it. It’s great to see what they’ve become. They were pretty special when they got here, but they’re amazing.”
Laurinaitis added, “It was great to see Coach Tressel in such great spirits and to surprise him as well.”
Tressel is now working as the vice president for strategic engagement at the University of Akron.
But he noted how “Central Ohio holds a special place in my heart. These were 10 unbelievable years. The people we met, the opportunities we had … when you’re the coach at Ohio State you get to go and see kids in hospitals and in the schools. You can’t do that at places other than Ohio State.”
In one of the highlight moments, Grant stepped forward and shared another rendition of Carmen Ohio to the delight of everyone in attendance. Click here for video of Grant’s rendition of Carmen Ohio from this event.
Our friends at NBC 4 Columbus also captured a portion of the event on video, including many of the stirring testimonials. Click here for their collection of videos from the event.
Those videos include several of the testimonials. Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, fought back tears as he talked about what Tressel meant to him.
“If it wasn’t for him, you wouldn’t see me in the way of being as successful as I’ve been,” Smith said. “Tress, without you I wouldn’t be here. I’ve always said I have two father figures – Ted Ginn Sr. and Jim Tressel.”
Jenkins talked about how Tressel made him do an hour of conditioning the day after the 2006 Penn State win. Jenkins had a pick-six interception in that game, but he spiked the ball at the goal line and celebrated with fans instead of handing the ball to an official.
“That was one of my greatest moments at Ohio State,” Jenkins said, laughing, “but every time I think about it, it’s tainted because I was punished for it.”
Carpenter talked about how Tressel made him fill out a goal sheet each year and how they discussed the goals each year. Hartsock reflected on the team’s trip to his family’s farm near Chillicothe, Ohio, in the weeks prior to the 2002 national championship season.
Sanzenbacher looked back at how his whole career came to a crescendo as Tressel greeted him prior to the 2010 Michigan game in his senior year.
In his video, Krenzel reflected on the tough decision he had in 2001, when the 9/11 attacks caused OSU’s game with San Diego State to be moved from September to October and the weekend of his sister’s wedding. Krenzel said Tressel showed him what is truly most important when he counseled him to be at his sister’s wedding.
Stay tuned for more on this special event with interviews with Hawk, Carpenter and Holmes on today's Bucknuts Front Row Radio show.
Below we have some photos from this special event.
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