CHICAGO – As a “pee-wee” football player and then a lineman at Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Eduardo “Eddie” Garza wanted to be like long-time Chicago Bears’ center Roberto Garza, the son of immigrant parents from Mexico.
While no relation, the younger Garza, whose father also emigrated from Mexico, had no Hispanic teammates on his high school team and idolized the Bears’ star who played 13 years of pro football, including 10 seasons with Chicago.
When Garza’s father, Zenon, immigrated to the United States, his passion was fùtbol, or soccer. But when the Bears won the pro football championship in 1985, it was all about the game of football with the kick-offs – not corner kicks.
“Hispanics don’t abandon their love for soccer or baseball for football,” Garza said. “It’s almost a cultural challenge. Chicago is crazy about the Bears, and for us as a family, game days are an excuse for getting together and cheering on our favorite team.”
Taking after his father, Eddie Garza and his family -- wife, Yanira, and kids Analiese, 6, Elijah, 2 and Mateo, almost 3 months, who are third generation Bears’ fans -- bring out their passion for the team on game days.
“It is madness in my household. It is excitement and anxiety. Expectations are always so high, especially when the Bears play against the Packers or Vikings.”
Garza’s list of all-time favorite Bears includes Mike Singletary, Wilbur Marshall and Otis Wilson. His most prized memorabilia includes a football used in the 2007 championship game, and a rare advance copy of a Chicago Sun-Times edition on Feb. 4, 2007, with the headline, “Chicago Bears: World Champs.” The newspaper was never published and distributed because the Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the title game that year.
Garza’s personal pride in the Bears now carries over to his professional life as well. He helps small businesses manage their cash flow as an account executive in the merchant services division of PNC Bank, the official bank of the Bears.
In 2015, PNC announced its multi-year, multi-million dollar Bears’ sponsorship, designating the bank as a Hall of Fame partner and the team’s exclusive banking partner. The first-ever naming rights agreement in the team's 95-year history includes the "PNC Center at Halas Hall" along with the "PNC Suites" at Soldier Field.
PNC’s relationship with the Bears’ allows the bank to grow business, including an affinity card launching in April 2016 that features special discounts and other benefits. The agreement also gives PNC access to the largest Hispanic fan base in the U.S. as the first headline sponsor of the Spanish language broadcasts of the Bears’ games and a signature show called “Vamos Bears.”
The relationship with the Hispanic community is important to Garza. He is active with the Northwest Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He helps Chicagoland’s Latina entrepreneurs find financial empowerment seminars, obtain capital and other small business resources. He most recently helped with a networking event to bring together business owners from various industries and backgrounds.
Garza, who joined PNC in 2007, helps in the community with PNC’s policy that allows 40 hours of paid time to volunteer each year as part of Grow Up Great, PNC’s initiative to improve early childhood education. He spends time at Partners for our Communities in Palatine, Ill., where he has helped to paint, landscape and create an outside children’s play area. At Chicago’s El Valor, he helps preschoolers with vocabulary.
I come from immigrant parents who arrived here with nothing. I want to help fellow Latino families achieve some of the same success that we accomplished.
Garza also helps fellow Latinos achieve success through PNC’s Latino employee business resource group (EBRG) in Chicago. He is a board member and communications chair. PNC created various groups to bring together employees with common backgrounds to celebrate diversity.
“Eddie’s involvement in the Latino EBRG displays his teamwork, customer focus and of course, diversity,” said Dorothy Abreu of PNC’s community development banking division and fellow Latino EBRG member. “His passion has resulted in significant membership growth over the past few years.”
When the Bears get a 'W,' nothing negative can ruin my week. And when they don’t…well that’s another story…
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