It all started last year with the revitalization of the Indianapolis Colts Women's Organization and the first ever major fundraising event by the group: Tailgating with the Colts.
Now it is back, and better than ever. Click here to view photos.
"There are players in the back all night signing autographs," announced Colts UpClose host, Jeffrey Gorman at the start of the evening.
"Alright, listen, let's have fun!"
The crowd responded with a resounding cheer.
Spirits were high as the unique evening began. In its second year, the Tailgating with the Colts brought together 215 Colts fans, Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay, and various Colts players including Peyton Manning, Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney, and Dallas Clark for a fun and exciting event.
"It was an idea we had last year that we thought would be a lot of fun for the fans and be a great way to raise money for the community," said Casey Irsay, Colts Vice President, who has been instrumental in the renewal of the ICWO.
The setting for this year's event was the ballroom at the Downtown Indianapolis Westin. Attendees were treated to dinner and beverages from Shula's and the Monday Night Football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers. During the course of the evening Gorman interviewed Freddie Keiaho, Jim Irsay, and Peyton Manning for the crowd.
Fans also got a chance to take pictures with the Lombardi trophy and in front of backdrop of the Colts locker room complete with pads and helmets to use as props.
Throughout the first half of the Monday Night Football game a silent auction was held with a wide range of items such as Colts jewelry from Hofmeister and Reis Nichols, 20/20 Institute Lasik surgery, a chance to co-host and UpClose segment with Jeffrey Gorman, tickets to Colts and Pacers games, travel packages, a Yao Ming autographed shoe, and an AJ Foyt and Kenny Brack autographed championship bottle of champagne.
"It's very fun," said Tammi Thompson as she waited in line to meet Colts players including Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes, Jeff Saturday, and Antoine Bethea. "It's a great evening to hang out with friends."
She smiled and added, "It's my Christmas present."
"I saw everybody's pictures from last year and I thought I had to do it," added her friend Cameron Kelly.
The entertaining night, however, was far from over. During the third quarter representatives from the defense, offense, and special teams participated in a spirited trivia-game show. Questions ranged from the Indianapolis 500 to "Saved by the Bell"
"We'll definitely do it again next year. We were able to open it up to a lot more people this year and a lot of women attended, which is great," said Casey Irsay. "And we had a better player turnout."
The evening closed with a live auction featuring game-worn, autographed jerseys from fan favorites like Manning, Wayne, Harrison, and Freeney and many more great items. Last year the live auction accounted for 60% of the $100,000 the evening raised for charities.
"Hopefully it will turn into a tradition," added Irsay.
"We're hoping people will start talking about it and want to start coming."
The ICWO, established in the mid-1990, seeks to improve the Indianapolis community by providing volunteer opportunities, community outreach and networking for all women associated with the Colts organization. Made up of coaches and players wives, employee spouses and female employees, these women represent positive change and community belonging which stems from what the Indianapolis Colts hope to achieve as a whole.
Tailgating with the Colts last year helped raise funds that supported organizations including the Julian Center, The Villages, Breast Cancer Research, and IPS School #88.