Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson raised more than $110,000 for kids in need at his fourth annual Celebrity Waiter Night on Monday at the Grand Street Café.
The event featured 17 Chiefs players, including Johnson, who served appetizers and entrees to approximately 175 guests.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith wasn’t surprised so many of Johnson’s teammates came out to support the event, which benefits Johnson’s Defend the Dream Foundation, whose mission is to provide low-income and urban young people in Kansas City with opportunity and resources.
“Every year man, he gets a lot of guys,” said Smith, who attended the event. “He asks us early and gets in the locker room and stays on us. But the guy he is, the teammate he is, everybody gets behind him and wants to help him out.”
Center Mitch Morse agreed.
“Man, that was so cool,” Morse said. “The respect Derrick has in this community is unparalleled to any other player I’ve seen. Not only is he an excellent football player, he understands the importance of community work early on in his career and was able to build on that. That’s a lesson for us young guys.”
Johnson has been busy with his foundation of late. Over the past 14 months, he’s opened nine Discovery Dens — which are mini libraries with age-appropriate books — in local schools.
“They don’t have that many age-appropriate books for them, so they’re reading stuff that’s too high-level for them or too low-level for them, and it’s not enough,” Johnson said.
Johnson pledged $30,000 to his own foundation and said the proceeds from the event will go to opening more Discovery Dens in urban public schools.
“My goal is big, man — I’m trying to get them into all Title I schools here in Kansas City, which is a lot,” said Johnson, whose goal is to impact 100,000 at-risk Kansas City children by 2019. “But I want to make a direct impact. … I want to create an environment where it’s cool to be in that library.”
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (knee) and receiver Mike Williams (hamstring) went through rehab work on the hill closest to the practice field Wednesday.
Both players have missed all eight of the Chiefs’ offseason practices as they recover. This was Charles’ second time working on the hill during OTAs, while it was Williams’ first.
Chiefs running back Charcandrick West missed practice Wednesday. A team spokesman said he was sick.