Savaglio (Right) with his family

Savaglio’s Story

I’ve never sat down to do my own bucket list. At 25, I’m still relatively young and nowhere near having to think about something like that. Though off the top of my head, it might look something like this:

Pyramids in Egypt, check. Spiritual experience in India, check. A trip to Portland to watch the Fire in their first-ever meeting with the Timbers, hopefully check. Giovanni Savaglio and I have a different set of priorities and that hopefully includes a trip to the North Pole…


Having been with the Fire since the beginning, the 16th season ticket holder in club history counts the inaugural double winning season of 1998 as one of his best memories.

“I think a lot of Fire fans can recite the whole lineup from that year,” said Savaglio. “It was something we had that was special, like catching lightning in a bottle and it was new to everyone so we all felt like we were a part of it.” Another memory came shortly thereafter.

Following the 1998 season, Savaglio suffered a heart attack. He survived but was diagnosed later with ventricular tachycardia, a symptom that can lead to ventricular fibrillation and sudden death. Because of his condition, Savaglio underwent surgery in 1999 to have a defibrillator put in his chest.

Four weeks later the Munster, IN native found himself back at a Fire game at old Soldier Field. A native of the first row in whatever stadium the club has played in, Savaglio’s ticket rep asked him if he wanted to do a halftime promotion to kick a ball through a tiny hole in one of the nets.

“I had gym shoes on so I said sure. I stepped up and hit the ball, it sort of went pinged off both sides and through the hole like a basketball shot that hits the rim twice before falling through. I was so caught up in the pandemonium of the moment that I did a flip. It was funny because when I got to my seat my friends told me, ‘We give you a 10 for the goal a 5 for the flip and a -1 for the landing because, well I didn’t land it in the traditional sense. Either way, it was one of those memorable moments in your lifetime.” Back to good health, Savaglio seemed encouraged to take a new lease on life. He was charmed by a the story of Ernest Schakleton, an Irish explorer who three times failed to make it to the South Pole.

Shackleton’s second expedition in particular gained him notoriety, as he attemped to be the first to cross Antarctica by way of the South Pole in 1915. His journey was derailed as his ship was caught in pack ice and slowly crushed. What ensued for Shackleton and his crew was a 497-day journey floating on ice and in life boats before eventually making back to Elephant Island, still a far shot from any non-Antarctic land.

“When I got over my health problems, I really looked to that story as inspiration. I decided I wanted to put my money towards going to the South Pole.”

Savaglio, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, had no way of knowing that he would meet his wife Kerrie on the 2002 trip, but as he says in his Quart Expedition entry (where he’s looking for votes):

“The unexpected is a part of polar travel. Aside from the routine posting of weather conditions, ice flows, and animal sightings, you can expect thoughts and reflections that go beyond the usual.”

Now having been to the South, Savaglio has set his sights on the North Pole as part of a blogging contest through Quark Expeditions. When he first approached me about it, I thought he was crazy. Why would anyone actually want to go to the North Pole? Part of it for him is the sense of personal adventure and accomplishment, though, when he told me his plans to stake a Chicago Fire flag on top of the world, I began to think it was an even better idea.

I asked what we needed to do to help and the answer was simple: push Fire fans to vote the “Chicago way” in this contest, in order to get him within the top 5 (where Quark would do their own work on selecting the winner). In mid-December Savaglio sat 16th in the voting, today he sits sixth.

“I realized I was up against it,” he said. “I needed help if I was going to move up the ladder, I needed help from as many people as I could get. I think it’s a true testament to the Fire family that so many have already voted to help me realize a dream and I’m thankful for the time people have spent in doing it.”

Despite a great overall effort from Fire fans, Savaglio is still as of today, about 200 votes outside of fifth place, with the February 14 voting deadline inching closer and closer.

He’s laid down the gauntlet to Fire fans though, purchasing two Section 8 season tickets as a prize for a drawing amongst fans that pledge their votes to him.

What do you need to do vote and be entered two win 2011 Season Tickets?

1) Visit this page to vote for Giovanni by entering your e-mail address or connection to the site via your Facebook account.

2) Vote.

3) Write, “Go Giovanni and Chicago Fire” on his entry wall to let him know you’ve made your contribution.

4) Tell your friends and family about Giovanni’s quest and ask them to vote as well.

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.