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Bears star Forte helps raise money with event in Gurnee

DonnLevy (right) takes phoher daughter Zi7 with Chicago Bear running back Matt Forte The Bottom Line barber Shop Gurnee. |

Donna Levy (right) takes a photo of her daughter Zion, 7, with Chicago Bear running back Matt Forte at The Bottom Line barber Shop in Gurnee. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Owner: Robert Vaughn, who is a North Chicago High School grad (Class of 1988).

He has won several national awards competing in hair-cutting competitions.

The Bottom Line is located on Riverside Drive in the shopping complex on the East side of Route 21/Milwaukee Ave., just north of Washington.

Two flat screen TVs, one of them showing Bears highlights on Saturday. The shop also has a pool table. The walls include personalized autographed photos and jerseys from Bears players.

Autograph session with Matt Forte: 10-noon on Saturday morning. $60 for one item to be autographed, $100 for two items. When the shop opened there were about 50 autograph seekers already in line.

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Updated: June 21, 2013 2:19AM

In so many ways, we are reminded on a regular basis that we really are all in this together.

Last weekend, volunteers throughout the area worked on Earth Week projects to improve living and working conditions in places where they didn’t live or work.

In other parts of the area, volunteers helped with sandbagging to protect the homes of people they didn’t know from flooding.

And then there was Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte. One day after the completion of a three-day mini-camp and introduction to the ways and means of new Bears coach Mark Tressman, Forte volunteered his Saturday morning to help raise money for youngsters in the community who need help.

That is what being a team player is all about.

Forte spent the morning at The Bottom Line barber shop (Route 21, just north of Washington Street in Gurnee) raising money through the selling of his autographs to help projects that will assist those who need assistance.

Robert Vaughn (North Chicago High School Class of ’88) is the owner of The Bottom Line, and it was his friendship with Forte that made Saturday’s fund-raising event possible.

“I was actually the official team barber for the Bears beginning back in 2007,” said Vaughn, whose first barber shop was in Gurnee Mills. “(Then-Bear) Tommie Harris was one of my first clients at the mall. I inquired whether they had a team barber, and he said they had justed parted ways with one. So he referred me to Isaiah Harris in player development — he was my boss — and I went through an interview process, a background check, the whole nine yards. They gave me a couple months, called me back and asked if I wanted the job. It’s one of those opportunities that you would never imagine. So I’ve had a relationship with the team since 2007.”

That relationship led to Saturday’s fund-raiser.

“Basically, having a business in the Gurnee community, I want to be able to give something back. I’ve been cutting hair for years. My father, who is also part of the barber shop, he’s the one who got me started. My goal is to help the young kids in this area I’m also an instructor at U Next Barber Academy in Gurnee Mills where I work with a lot of at-risk teens and at-risk youth to help give them an alternate route. My goal is to take my trade and use it to help guide people in the right direction.

“I’m just thankful for this opportunity to work with the team, and the relationship I’ve been able to build with the players.”

When the shop opened, there already were 50-60 people waiting in line for an autograph.

“The money is going in different directions,” said Vaughn. “I want to help support Gurnee youth football, and some will go to North Chicago where I graduated. That’s Michael Turner’s school too. His cousin, Bryant Duncan, works for us.” (Turner has been a running back in the NFL, but currently does not have a team.)

For his part, Forte was glad to contribute his time to a worthy cause.

“I’ve known him as a barber since I first came to the Bears. Now, he’s kind of branching out on his own and getting his barber shop started,” Forte said. “But it’s also for a good cause. Rob wants to give back to the community, and he likes to help out with kids that might not have a lot of positive things going on in their lives. Teaching them something like how to cut hair gives them an alternative to being out on the street.”

The three previous days, Forte spent all day with new Bears coach Marc Trestman, and he’s upbeat about the future of the Bears.

“He’s a very intelligent guy. His intelligence off the field reflects his intelligence on the field with his play-calling, knowing the offense front to back, and how to use the players in that offense,” Forte said. “We’re going to spread the ball around. He likes things at a fast pace. At mini-camp we worked at a really fast pace, both offense and defense. e really stresses hustle and making plays. If you run to the ball even when you don’t have it, anything can happen.”

At the front of the line to meet Forte was Bob Golden, who had arrived at 6 a.m. for the 10 o’clock signing event morning from Cedar Lake, Ind., south of Hammond.

How did he even find out about this event? “I saw it on the internet, on Facebook from Glenn Timmerman. We go around to a lot of signings. We keep one for ourselves, and then we give stuff away for St. Jude’s Kids.”

(Timmerman, of Round Lake Beach, was featured on for his unique way of displaying his Bears autograph collection: on his body. He asks players and coaches to autograph his body, then gets the autograph tattooed. According to his Web site, he already had Matt Forte’s autograph (and over 100 others), but was at the event with his car “Sweetness” that has a custom Walter Payton-themed paint job.)

Also in line were North Chicago High grad Donna Levy and her children, track stars Caleb and Zion. Last month, Caleb broke the 8-under boys national indoor record in the 1,500-meter run. One person in line joked: “Matt Forte should be asking for YOUR autograph.”

Caleb brought a football for Forte to autograph.

Donna Levy said: “He’s just crazy about the Bears. When I told him Matt Forte is going to be here he said, ‘Mom, we have to go!’”

Donna Levy and Vaughn ran track at North Chicago at the same time. Levy is a 1989 North Chicago grad.

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