By Sam Geraci
Photos by Sam Geraci
When Floyd Mayweather’s Money Team is in the news, too often, all that are conjured up or discussed are brash images of what it means to be famously black, fly, fresh, flashy and rich. Perhaps because it doesn’t fit with the antagonistic role or WWE heel-like persona that has been thrust upon and embraced by the sport’s biggest star in order to promote his fights, there is another much more meaningful side of generosity and stewardship to Mayweather and his Money Team that is rarely covered in the headlines.
That more meaningful side was on full display this weekend in Chicago by one of Mayweather’s closest Money Team members, Nate Jones.
On August 17, in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood, which used to be home to the infamous Cabrini Green Housing Projects, Nate Jones, a 1996 heavyweight bronze medalist and a close friend and trainer of Floyd Mayweather, hosted more than 500 at his fifteenth annual family picnic in Seward Park.
What started out as a small gathering of the Jones family in 1999 to honor and remember Jones’s twin sister, Nataley, who died of Lupus in 1997, has grown to be one of the biggest and most anticipated annual events for the Near North community in Chicago.
“To start, it was just a small way to bring people together to remember those who have left us, but it slowly turned into a celebration of the community and a way to bring everyone, especially the kids, together in a peaceful and loving way to fight all of the violence in Chicago,” said Jones.
Today, the Nate Jones Family Picnic feeds and entertains its attendees from ten in the morning until ten in the evening. To do so, Jones and the event’s primary organizers: Regina Daniels, Angelica Hardin and Carla Ja coordinated more than 60 volunteers to set up and monitor two jumbo inflatable jumping castles, a face painting station, a dance floor with a DJ and a large grilling tent manned by an executive chef and ten volunteer cooks.
“This is such a beautiful and loving event that Nate has created. Look around, you’ve got kids playing while their parents and grandparents and neighbors are all sitting down together to share a hearty meal with some real food,” said Chef Tyson of Southern Roots Catering who has been with Jones since his first picnic.
As the number of picnic attendees and sponsors have grown over the years, so to have the number of dishes and the size and number of servings.
“Some of these people might not have been able to eat today, so we’re gonna feed everyone here a hefty plate, and as long as they’re willing to wait in line again, they’re all gonna seconds later tonight,” said Jones.
Here are the numbers on the food: 400 beef burgers, 300 turkey burgers, 300 hot dogs, 1,000 buns, 400 chicken wings, 8 cases of chicken, 30 pounds of sirloin steaks, 50 pounds of mac and cheese, 50 pounds of potato salad, 30 pounds of coleslaw, 30 pounds of pasta, over a thousand cans of soda and water bottles and hundreds of popsicles.
In a city whose non-tourist neighborhoods usually only grab headlines after violence has occurred, Nate Jones, a prominent member of the Money Team, has been pulling together his resources with the help of Mayweather to provide an annual picnic for the Near North neighborhood of Chicago that brings the community together to fight violence.
Anyone interested in more information about the Nate Jones Family Picnic or the Nate Jones Foundation should contact the Nate Jones Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.