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Club 400 raises thousands for fellow Cubs fans

LAKE IN THE HILLS, Ill. — Stu McVicar’s Lake in the Hills home sits 50 miles northwest of Wrigley Field but walk into his basement, and you’re transported to Clark and Addison.

“I actually built what I wanted to be next best place to watch Cubs games, which was Club 400,” said McVicar, a McHenry native.

McVicar spent four years building his Chicago Cubs cave with meticulous detail.

“The contractors had to be Cub fans,” he said. “I wouldn’t let anyone see it.”

He finally unveiled his passion project in 2013.

“You can be a total stranger, and if you love the Cubs, you are welcome here,” McVicar said. “That bond we have over the Cubs is stronger than anything.”

“When I first saw this place, I was overwhelmed with ‘You are crazy!’” said McVicar’s friend Nick Sheridan. “It’s unreal down here. I still see things [when I come] that I haven’t seen before.”

The cornucopia of Cubbie collectables includes autographed pictures and framed jerseys, a mini World Series trophy, and an original organ from the friendly confines, souvenirs savored from decades of fandom.

“When I was a kid, my mom used to take me on the road and we would go to the hotel lobbies the Cubs were staying in and the players used to sign items for us,” McVicar said.

In the early 1980s, McVicar’s mom Sue joined the original Cubs fan club—the Wild Bunch.

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“They were a wonderful group of people,” Sue McVicar said. “I took Stu and Eric on bus trips with these people, they became their aunts and uncles. ‘7th Inning Dorothy,’ as they called her, she was like their grandma. The Wild Bunch has really initiated a lot of things for us because it introduced us to people that had Cub fever in their hearts.”

The spirit of the Wild Bunch lives on through Club 400, but over the last decade, McVicar’s mission has morphed into much more than watching baseball.

“I believe this was my destiny, that I was put here to do this, to give back to the fans,” he said.

The first fan McVicar wanted to help was Sheridan, whom he had known for two-plus decades. Sheridan contracted bacterial meningitis in his early 20s, losing his legs and hands. How did he stay positive through such a devastating illness?

“I don’t know. My friends I guess,” Sheridan said, fighting back tears. “I’ve always been a jokester, a funny guy. I would say my friends and family pulled me through.”

Just after Club 400 opened, Sheridan wrecked his prosthetic arm while racing a mini sprint car. McVicar had convinced Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts to see his completed Cubs castle and decided to use the occasion as a fundraiser for his friend.

“So the next morning the light bulb went off, I said ‘Oh my gosh. I got Tom Ricketts who wants to come over and see this basement. I got my buddy Nick Sheridan who needs new prosthetics,’” he said.” I put the two together and we had our first ever Club 400 event in August of 2014 and raised $32,000. And with the help of some great people, we got Nick a leg, an arm and a leg and some other great contraptions that helped him out.”

In the 10 years since, Club 400 has opened its doors to dozens of Cubs players past and present, hosting events that have raised $851,000 for various foundations and individuals in need.

“When we first started it was players’ charities. Then after getting reputable, I’ve always wanted to help Cubs fans. Last year we had Joe Maddon out and had a $75,000 event for the Special Olympics. But my focus is really on families, individuals and more importantly kids,” he said.

One of those kids is 9-year-old Ryker who suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

“There is no name for it, he is one of 23 kids in the world with the gene mutation he has,” said Ryker’s dad Eddie Colon.

When Ryker’s older brother Aramis won a contest to tour Club 400 in 2021, the Colon family spent about an hour taking in the sights. When they left, they thought that would be the end of their connection to the club.

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But far from it. McVicar reached back out soon after to ask about Ryker and told Eddie he wanted to host an event in his son’s honor.

“It’s crazy that many people showed up to support a family they didn’t even know,” Colon said. “That’s what they do. They help anyone.”

A #TeamRyker hashtag followed, displayed on shirts and wristbands that several Cubs players still wear, many of them hand delivered by Ryker himself.

“To them it’s probably just a blue band,” Colon said. “To me it’s more than that. So just wearing it shows you’re supporting him and the family.”

Cubs fans supporting Cubs fans. A creed created in the basement of a baseball buff and spread far beyond his wildest dreams.

“It’s overwhelming the love the guy has for everybody, and for me to get the first honor of that I feel beyond grateful,” Sheridan said.

“I just feel really good because not a lot of dads help raise money for people, and it’s a blessing for me and feel inspired by that,” said McVicar’s daughter Lauren.

“People ask me what’s the best thing about Club 400,” McVicar said. “Of course, giving away $851,000 is great, but I’m more proud of the community that we got from all these fans coming together. When I see fans who met at a game, that’s the proudest thing about Club 400 is bringing people together.”

McVicar’s goal is to raise $1 million for Cub fans. He has an event with the 1984 team coming up this summer and hopes to have Sammy Sosa back at his basement as well. They are always looking for donations and sponsors and to learn more, head to Club400Cubs.com or follow them on social media.

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