To our Amazing Customers and Employees!!

It seems impossible to believe that 25 years ago this week, two naïve 20-somethings who thought
they had a clue of what they were doing, opened the doors to Windy City Fieldhouse thanks to
57 courageous investors (perhaps naïve in their own right) and a courageous bank. Many were
family members, many friends, some people we had worked for and a bunch were independent
investors who did not know us at all. Little did we know what would happen and how quickly
time would go by. So the question is, how do we thank a generation of customers and
employees? In addition, how could 25 years have passed that quickly?

It happened in a blink of an eye and it seems impossible to believe, but it only takes a quick look
at our waistlines and hairlines to confirm the wonderful and sad truth. A generation has passed.
We had no kids when we started and now our kids are nearly the age of when we started.

How do we thank the million plus customers and thousands of employees who will never know
how important they are to us? How do we convey how incredible it feels to watch thousands of
kids playing sports in our facility each week growing up in front of us into young adults with
kids of their own now playing in the same youth sports as they did? Or how do we express the
pride and gratitude of executing over 10,000 Corporate and Team Building events with virtually
every large company in Illinois and many outside of the state? We did an Amazing Race event
on the beach in Hawaii, Team Building in Cancun and events in dozens of states across the
country. We held black-tie galas, overnight events to raise money for cancer research and
unbelievable Halloween parties to raise money for children affected by aids.  We executed
1000’s of scavenger hunts here in Chicago with our clients enjoying what this great city has to
offer. Likely over a half a million employees have enjoyed our Corporate Picnics — how many
burgers have our caterers served — likely over a million. We enjoyed watching 1000+ sales
people from a Fortune 500 company chant at the top of their lungs that their
competition sucks, “X Sucks, X Sucks” — good, clean fun. The CEO of that same company got
up 20 feet in the air on a platform and had a barber shave his head because he promised to do so
if they hit their goals. Even more importantly through our amazing clients, we executed
thousands of Charitable Team Building events resulting in tens of thousands of charitable items
being donated to charities including bikes, wagons, tricycles, no-sew blankets, military care
packages, hospital kits and school kits. And during Covid we even did nearly 100 virtual Safari
events for preschoolers with the actual South African safari guides.

We have watched as young became old(er). We now hear frequently from parents that had their
own birthday party some 20+ years ago at Windy City and now are hosting their child’s birthday
party. It shocked us the first time we heard that and it is still an incredible feeling every time we
hear it. Thousands and thousands of hours of basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, floor
hockey, lacrosse (and now pickleball — who knew) have been played. Millions and millions of
calories have been burned in our building (regrettably not nearly enough of our own — no
excuses — we work 30 feet from six basketball courts).

When we opened the only really coed sport was volleyball as the Title IX ladies were just
starting to graduate college. Now almost all sports are virtually 50/50. When we opened there
was no Instagram, no Twitter, no Tik Tok, no YouTube, no streaming. I know, how did we
survive without social media!! No texting. No Google. No Ipod. No Ipad. No Iphones, No Smart
Phones. No Wifi. No real internet as we know it and most people did NOT have cell phones. We
have one full-time employee that was not even born yet when we opened. When we
opened, WCF had no email, no website — only print ads, radio ads, billboards, networking, faxes
and ads in the yellow pages!!

How do you thank the 1000’s of employees over the years, both full and part-time. One
employee devoted over two decades of her life to us starting in her early 20’s. She now has two
kids including a teenager. Many have devoted over a decade of their lives to WCF. Of course,
many have moved on – one is the Vice President and Treasurer at a Fortune 500 Company and
another is the Executive Director and Branch Manager of a major financial institution.  A part-
time employee was such an incredible dribbler that when the developers of one of the major
basketball video game companies saw him on the next court, they chose to wire him up and he
became a player in the game that appears in 1000’s of bars and elsewhere. We accidentally
learned what a rave was back in 1998 when we unknowingly hosted a rave. Ah, ignorance is
bliss.

Thanks to our amazing customers and employees, we survived the dot com bubble including a
local TV station mistakenly broadcasting that we had gone out of business when in fact it was
one of our customers that had gone out of business. It took 25 excruciating minutes for them to
correct the story and years to answer the repeated questions about it from investors and
customers alike.

We grieved with our customers and employees while watching the horror of the 9/11 terrorist
attacks. We had a team building event that night for an out of town client now stuck here in
Chicago as their employees could not fly home due to the air travel stoppage. We quickly
switched from a team building event to a quiet event in the hotel with a little bit of passive
entertainment to help the now stranded employees cope. We persevered through the stock market
crash and recession of 2008 when even the companies that were doing fine did not want to host
events because it “looked” bad. We even started doing events without any signage or reference to
the companies.

And then of course COVID when we (like so many other businesses) were told we were not
essential and our two businesses (sports in the building and corporate events) were unsafe and
“illegal.” We were shut down for months to barely be reopened with significant limitations and
restrictions only to be closed again just five months later for almost 2 more excruciating months.
When we sort of reopened kids were allowed to participate if they stayed six feet apart. It
brought new meaning to spreading out the offense in basketball. It was devastating to watch the
5 year olds in hula hoop circles that they had to stay in with their ball because they could not
move or share equipment. Within minutes, one of them dropped their ball and ran through two
other hula hoops to get their ball. It would have been easier to herd kittens. Of course all of those
kids could walk freely in Target next store without rules — but do not get us started.
So as we wrap up this letter and the myriad of memories we end where we started. How do we
thank a generation of customers and employees? As we sit here and contemplate that and the 25
years that have passed, admittedly with a few tears, it seems our only recourse is to use two of
the most powerful words in the English language that are unfortunately not used nearly enough
these days… THANK YOU!!!

We are looking forward to another amazing 25 years!!!

Murrel Karsh                                    Bob Beaubien
President/Co-Founder                   Executive Vice President/Co-Founder

WCF’s Founding Partners

WCF Celebrating 25 Years

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