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Pizza-eating Sharks Infest Cupertino

Jumbo Joe drew a giant crowd at Amici's for a Sharks Foundation fundraiser.

Sharks jumped the tank and infested Cupertino Monday night, but there was no cause for alarm. They were just looking for pizza.

And they found it, along with about 1,000 "finatics," at on De Anza Boulevard. They showed up hoping to see their favorite San Jose Sharks players, and maybe get an autograph or two.

It was all in the name of a charity: a fundraiser to support the Sharks Foundation, the nonprofit leg of the San Jose Sharks hockey organization, which provides funding for education, health and safety, and character development in the community.

Amici’s donated $14,400 to the nonprofit organization—$6,400 of which was 100 percent of all sales from 3-10 p.m., plus Amici’s kicked in an additional sum for good measure.

“In recognition of the great turnout, we added an extra $8,000,” said Richard Allum, Amici’s director of marketing. “We’re not just throwing money at advertising. This money really does go to benefit people.”

With Jumbo, Pavs, Seto, Pickles, Patty, Heater and more, they were short only a netminder, with enough San Jose Sharks players to fill a bench with more than three full forward lines and a complete complement of defense pairings.

The organizers were expecting 11 players, but Allum said 19 players showed up, including the big guns, such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi.

“This was the largest player appearance outside HP (Pavilion) anywhere during the year,” Allum said.

Joining the players were Sharks play-by-play radio announcer Dan Rusanowsky, television play-by-play man, Randy Hahn, and S.J. Sharkie, the team’s mascot.

The players were scheduled to show up at 4:30 p.m., but the line of fans started snaking around the building at 3:30 p.m., making for a long wait for autographs.

“People were very patient. We really appreciate that,” Allum said.

Amici’s has had similar events at the Cupertino location and at the downtown San Jose location, but Allum said the Cupertino space is better suited for events such as this.

“This was the biggest and best one yet,” he said.

Last year’s event fell during the same time as the Winter Olympics, which meant eventual Olympic gold medal winners Thornton, Marleau, Boyle, and Heatley weren’t in California, nor was silver medalist Pavelski.

Players routinely make appearances for fundraising events on behalf of the Sharks Foundation, which was established in 1994 and is supported by players and the entire Sharks organization.

Since its inception, it has donated $5.2 million to more than 109 local charities with a focus on enhancing the lives of youth and families. And during the 2010-11 season, the Sharks Foundation granted more than $272,000 to 11 nonprofit organizations in Santa Clara County, said Jeff Cauir, Sharks Foundation manager

“This year alone, our literacy program has helped over 22,000 students learn about the importance of reading,” he said.

“As role models, we are committed to giving back to the community that so strongly supports us.”

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