Photo by Joe Boyle
Evergreen Park native Katie Quick performs on guitar and sings a version of “Stand By Me” before the beginning of the Tony Knight benefit walk. Holding the microphone is Dillon Knight, Tony’s brother.
Tony Knight was well-known and well-liked as a youngster who attended schools in District 124 in Evergreen Park.
Tony died in his sleep three years ago at the age of 29 from a brain aneurysm. After his death, his grieving family decided they had to do something in his memory. The first year was an outing to a White Sox game and last fall a walk was held to raise funds with the assistance of the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
The family and friends and the many people that Tony knew came out again Sunday morning for a walk in his memory around Yukich Field, 8900 S. Kedzie Ave., Evergreen Park. Participants walked the three miles and pledged a donation to the District 124. The proceeds from this year’s “5K for TK” will be donated to the Evergreen Park District 124 Special Education Department for the purchase of standing desks and active ball seats for each of the five buildings of the district.
Mary Ellen Knight, Tony’s mother, said that this year they decided to give back to the District 124 Special Education Program. She said that Tony prospered because the school district allowed him to succeed throughout his school years.
“Like most students with ADHD and learning disabilities, Tony found sitting in a chair and a desk for long periods of time difficult,” Mary Ellen said. “He could learn much better when he was allowed to stand, change seats, or move around.”
Tony Knight attended Southeast Elementary School and later Evergreen Park High School. He played Little League baseball in Evergreen Park and also played football at St. Bernadette Elementary School, which has since closed. He played baseball and football at Evergreen Park High School.
Mary Ellen Knight said the amount of people of all ages who came out for the benefit walk was more than she could imagine and attributed that to his son’s personality.
“The turnout was excellent,” Mary Ellen said. “A lot of people came out. We are thrilled with the results.”
She said donations and from relatives and friends of Tony resulted in raising $11,000. About $9,000 will go to District 124 Special Education Program for the specific desks and chairs for the five schools in the district. The rest of the money will go for expenses ranging from serving lunch and preparing T-shirts for participants who took part in the walk and future projects in Tony’s memory.
This year’s event was a celebration of family, which Mary Ellen Knight said Tony would have liked. Dillon Knight, Mary Ellen’s son, made the initial speeches about his brother. He also held the microphone for singer and guitarist Katie Quick, an Evergreen Park native, who performed a version of “Stand By Me.” Also assisting were Mary Ellen’s husband, Jim, and another son, Jason.
Nearly $7,000 was raised last year for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. One in 50 people has a brain aneurysm and every 18 minutes a brain aneurysm ruptures, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. Risk factors include people who smoke, have high blood pressure or hypertension, family history, are over age 40, drug use (particularly cocaine) or a traumatic head injury. Women also have an increased risk, according to the Foundation.
The Foundation said that six warning signs include a localized headache, dilated pupils, blurred or double vision, pain above and beyond the eye, weakness and numbness, and difficulty speaking.
The Knights have previously said that Tony did not fit the norm for having a brain aneurysm. They just want to make people aware of the symptoms.
But this year, Mary Ellen said she is glad they could help the schools in District 124.
“Tony was a great person and he knew so many people,” Mary Ellen said. “Our family wanted to do something in his memory.”
A check will be presented soon to Dr. Robert Machak, superintendent of School District 124. Individuals who were not able to attend the walk can still send donations to School District 124 in memory of Tony Knight. The school district is located at 2929 W. 87th St., Evergreen Park. More information can be obtained by calling District 124, (708) 423-0950.