Former Bears outside linebacker Sam Acho coordinated a special event Thursday at the By the Hand Club for Kids in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and receiver Allen Robinson joined Acho, along with players from the Cubs (Jason Heyward and Jason Kipnis), Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews and Malcolm Subban) and Bulls (Ryan Arcidiacono and Max Strus).
The pro athletes gathered with youth and leaders from the By the Hand Club, BUILD and the Westside Health Authority, as well as Chicago police officers, for “healing circles.” They then took a bus tour of the neighborhood led by Alderman Emma Mitts and a youth representative from the By the Hand Club. In addition, Congressman Danny Davis also spoke to the group.
“We got together and we just listened,” said Acho, who played four seasons with the Bears from 2015-18. “We listened to the people who are hurting. We sat and stood in circles with some kids from the West Side of Chicago, some police officers from the West Side of Chicago and pro athletes as well, and just allowed each other to have an open dialogue about what’s been going on, how do we feel about the situation and where can we go from here.”
Acho organized the event because so many people are hurting following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer May 26. Floyd’s murder has sparked more than a week of protests and unrest throughout the country.
“The state that America is in is we’re divided,” Acho said. “It seems like it’s a white-versus-black problem, but it’s really not. It’s really an everyone-versus-racism, everyone-versus-hate, everyone-versus-fear problem.”
Wanting to give back to the community, Acho considered setting up a protest march or clean-up effort before opting to visit the By the Hand Club for Kids.
“One thing that came from me was thinking about those kids in the city who are affected by this,” Acho said. “I was like, ‘What they need is just some encouragement. They need somebody to listen to them and love on them,’ so that’s what we did.
“I gathered a couple guys from each team. It was like Noah’s Ark, two-by-two. We listened to the kids and what they’re going through and listened to their heart, talked to some police officers as well and just listened and learned, and tried to find out what we could do to help change the city.”