UPDATE: Jon Witcpalek of Culver's reported on Friday that the restaurant raised $1,830 for the family in sales. The sales figures from Thursday landed in the top five one-day totals in Culver's history, he said.
Co-founder Craig Culver then donated his four-percent franchise fee for the day (another $732). Combine that with the $1,200 given in straight donations during the day, and Witcpalek is writing a check to the Lederman family for $3,762.
And the Beck family, who sold bracelets in memory of Lederman, collected $1,439 for the Lederman's, merely the first donation they plan to make.
Some of the money they raised on Thursday, Brian Beck said, was used to buy another 500 bracelets, which he hopes to sell over the next couple of weeks, with all the money going to the Lederman family. Details on how those bracelets can be obtained will be made available next week.
It’s been proven time and time again. If you ask the community to step up for those in need, they’ll turn out in force, and give more than you could ask for.
Thursday was no exception. Throughout the day, hundreds upon hundreds of people waited in line, both inside and in the outside drive-thru lane, to eat at Culver’s of Oswego, and donate money to the family of Eric Lederman.
Lederman, a 12-year-old student at Thompson Junior High School, died on April 12 after an accident at a baseball game in Wheaton the day before—he was struck in the neck with a ball while warming up for a travel game.
From the moment they opened their doors at 10 a.m., Culver’s set aside 10 percent of all their earnings for the day to give to the Lederman family. Jon Witcpalek, franchise partner of the Oswego location, estimated that the restaurant raised $1,800 for the family from sales, and perhaps another $1,000 in donations.
In his 12 short years, Eric Lederman touched the lives of many, and Culver’s on Thursday was packed with his friends, classmates and acquaintances, his teachers and teammates, and even those who never met him, but had read or heard about his story.
Teachers from District 308 came out to lend a hand bagging and serving food, and even the co-founder of Culver’s, Craig Culver, showed up for a few hours, helping customers and running food out to those waiting in the drive-thru lane.
Witcpalek said Thursday's sales set a record "by far." He said his staff was rushing to other Culver's locations throughout the day to pick up items they had run out of. He couldn't help but come away from the experience impressed.
"Oswego is awesome," Witcpalek said.
The Beck family - Nicholas Beck, his father Brian, his mother Kim and his sister Jordan - had a front-row seat for the benefit: they sat in a booth near the front counters for most of the day, selling bracelets with Eric Lederman’s name on them. Nicholas, a classmate of Eric’s at Thompson Junior High, designed the bracelets, and he attended the fundraiser wearing a shirt with Lederman’s picture on the front, and his baseball number (#2) on the back.
In one day, the Becks sold out of the 500 bracelets at $5 each. All of the money, Brian Beck said, would go to the Lederman family.
“It’s been overwhelming,” he said. “A lot of people have just donated money too.”
Culver’s wasn’t the only store raising money for the Lederman family Thursday. Dawn Aagesen, co-owner of Savvy Fashions and More, also donated 10 percent of her earnings, and collected donations from customers. Along with contributions from Premier Design Jewelry and Tastefully Simple, Aagesen estimated she’d be able to give the Ledermans about $100.
In a basket on her counter, Aagesen was selling packets of baseball cards. Those, she said, were donated by her three sons: Andrew, Alex and Chandler. They decided to give up their private collection, she said.
Aagesen’s partner at Savvy Fashions, Nancy Tyl, said there wasn’t a single person who came into the store on Thursday who didn’t already know Eric Lederman’s story, and want to help out.
Cupcakes 2 Remember, just next door, also donated 10 percent of Thursday’s proceeds, and there were a lot of them, according to owner Kristi George. They sold 400 cupcakes, an unheard-of number for a Thursday—by 7 p.m., George had put out the last of the cupcakes she had in stock, and customers were still lining up.
She estimated the donation from her store at around $100 as well.
Many customers stopped into Cupcakes 2 Remember after eating at Culver’s, according to store manager Wendy Martorano, donating in both places. The community is small enough, she said, that Eric’s story spread quickly.
“You couldn’t help but have your heartstrings pulled, whether you knew the family or not,” she said.
On Wednesday, Jersey Mike's of Oswego also stepped up in a big way. Each sub sold meant a $1 donation to the Memorial Fund. Rob Mittman, marketing manager for the local chain, said the Oswego fundraiser collected about $1,200.
"It was just amazing," he said. "We really need to thank Oswego Pony baseball and District 308. They got the word out, and the community responded."
This week's fundraisers may be over, but you can still donate to the Lederman family. The Oswego Baseball and Softball Association, in conjunction with Oswego Youth Tackle Football, has set up a memorial fund.
Monetary donations can be made to the fund at Allied First Bank, 3201 Orchard Road, Oswego, IL, 60543. Make donations payable to "Eric Lederman Memorial Fund."