A's catcher Kurt Suzuki and his wife, Renee, are raising funds for Jon Wilhite, his former college teammate who was injured in the car crash that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others on April 9. Wilhite was the lone survivor of the Fullerton, Calif., crash that took the lives of Adenhart, Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart. Wilhite's medical status was upgraded to "fair" on May 1, and he is currently undergoing speech, physical and occupational therapy at a rehabilitation center in Southern California. Wilhite and Suzuki were teammates in 2004 when they were both catchers at Cal State Fullerton.
"Jon is tough, and has worked hard for everything he has earned in baseball and in life," Suzuki said in a release. "He was always like a little brother to everyone on the team at Fullerton. He was always in a good mood and just a great guy to be around." The funds raised by the Suzuki's will help pay for Wilhite's rehabilitation costs after recovering from injuries that included an operation on April 15 to reattach his skull and spinal column after a rare separation. The first fundraiser will take place from May 22 to 24 when Fullerton plays Long Beach State in a three-game series. Renee will be on site to help with a silent auction that will include autographed items from former players from the two schools such as Suzuki, Chad Cordero, Bobby Crosby, Jason Giambi, Mark Kotsay and Kirk Saarloos. During the month of June, the Suzukis, as well as Orlando and Katie Cabrera, will help with a special online auction on oaklandathletics.com. Finally, Renee and other A's player's wives will sell mystery A's autographed baseballs during the A's games against the Angels on Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19. More than 300 baseballs in paper bags will be on sale with a $40 donation to the Wilhite fund. And On Aug. 1, all of the proceeds from an A's silent auction will benefit the Wilhite Fund with A's Community Fund matching the total money raised in the silent auction. "Our hearts go out to all the families of those involved in this terrible tragedy," Kurt Suzuki said. "My wife, Renee, and I are very close with Jon and his family and were devastated to hear about this horrific accident. As a professional athlete, I have the resources and opportunity to host these fundraisers and I only hope that the money raised will alleviate some of the cost that Jon and his family will be faced with during his long rehab process." Additional monetary donations can be made to the Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund, account 3980643658, at any Wells Fargo Bank branch, or to a tax deductible account set up through Manhattan Beach Little League by mailing a check to: Manhattan Beach Little League, P.O. Box 3512, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, with "Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund" written in on the memo line.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.