Volume 1, Number 8
Biletnikoff Annual Crab Fest Supports Teens in Crisis
By Hacienda Pulse Staff Writer
Angela Biletnikoff was born and raised in Dublin, California. The Tri-Valley native says she does not have training as a counselor or a therapist and never expected to end up working on behalf of some of the highest-risk teenagers in California. But life had other plans for Angela and her husband, Fred Biletnikoff, an Oakland Raiders legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer.
The couple started the Dublin-based Biletnikoff Foundation to honor the life and memory of Fred’s daughter, Tracey Biletnikoff. Once a troubled teen, by 1999 Tracey had successfully graduated from an adult drug rehabilitation program, become a treatment counselor herself, and was working to raise money for a treatment program specifically for teenagers. Then her promising young life was cut short by an ex-boyfriend. Despite that tragedy, Tracey’s vision lives on through the foundation.
“Fred and I decided to take this tragedy and put it into a purpose, and the purpose is what Tracey started for us,” says Angela. “I was given this job through Tracey, if you will.”
After Tracey’s death, the Biletnikoffs began working to realize Tracey’s vision of a healing and supportive place for struggling teenage girls like the one she had once been. In 2000 the foundation created Tracey’s Place of Hope, a residential program for adolescent girls in crisis with mental health and substance abuse problems. Later it partnered with Koinoia Homes for Teens to expand the program and help more teens escape drug addiction, trafficking, and domestic violence.
In recent years the foundation acquired a house in Loomis, California, to realize Tracey’s Place of Hope. With the help of many volunteers and donors, the house was rebuilt to the highest possible standards of beauty and comfort. Last year Tracey’s Place of Hope in Loomis reopened its doors to a new group of high-risk girls in need.
The teenage girls who get direct help through the foundation are often surprised when they meet the Biletnikoffs, Angela says. “I always get asked, ‘Why are you doing this for us?’ And the only answer that I can give them is that I see a little bit of Tracey in each one of the girls that we serve.”
Their foundation is a hands-on, family affair for the couple. “Fred and I do just about everything,” says Angela. “We found that we have a better success rate, and we raise more funds if Fred and I are hands-on.” Everyone who works for the foundation is a volunteer, including Angela’s secretary of 20 years. The foundation’s low overhead allows it to support more programs.
The Biletnikoff Foundation got started with $91,000 in donations raised from Oakland Raiders fans at a single game. That same year the foundation hosted a crab feed fundraiser, which continues to this day and sells out every year. This year the Biletnikoff Foundation Annual Crab Fest will be held Friday, October 13, in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott San Ramon.
“It’s become a nice, elegant event that has all you-can-eat fresh crab flown in in from Washington,” says Angela, who notes that the evening of great food, loving people, and fun entertainment are all in support of helping teenagers in crisis get the help they need to move on to productive adult lives.
This year’s event features several bands plus a performance by Nashville artist Ira Dean. For more information about the Biletnikoff Foundation, visit http://www.biletnikoff.org.