Written by Bob Rakow
Hurckes’ spirit sparks annual bowling event
I vividly remember the moment I learned that Megan Hurckes had died.
My daughter and I were returning from the grocery store and before I could pull the car to the curb, my wife stepped onto the front porch to deliver the news. I was beyond shocked. What happened? How could this horrific news be true? But, sadly, it was true no matter how hard it was to believe.
The news quickly spread throughout Oak Lawn. Megan Hurckes, 10, died in an ATV accident on Labor Day weekend in Wisconsin. Purple ribbons were tied around trees throughout the community to commemorate her short life. Social media was flooded with messages from friends and family offering their condolences and support.
Megan was a sweet, adorable girl who had a smile you couldn’t forget. My daughter, Brigid, played softball with Megan on a team coached by her father, Jerry. Those were good times that I’ll always remember.
Jerry Hurckes is a former Oak Lawn trustee, who ran for mayor several years ago. I know him as a politician, a coach, a community activist. He was always a good news source when he represented District 6 on the Oak Lawn Village Board. He and his wife, Maryann, are good people.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done is offer Jerry and Maryann my condolences at Megan’s wake. Hundreds of people stood in line at Blake and Lamb Funeral Home for more than two hours to offer the Hurckes’ their sympathies.
When I approached Jerry, we embraced and he said, “She was a good girl, Bob. She was a good girl.” My heart was pounding. I had no idea what to say. What could I say? This family was grieving over the loss of their 10-year-old daughter, their baby girl. There were no words.
More than four years have passed since Megan’s death. She would have turned 15 in February. She would have been a high school freshman. I have no doubt that the Hurckes’ deeply miss Megan every day, but what they’ve done to honor her life is remarkable. The family has gone beyond grieving to celebrate what Megan meant not only to them but to so many others who knew her from the community, St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Kolb School and Westside Baseball.
Jerry Hurckes once told me, “To keep her memory going is much more important.”
The Hurckes’ will do exactly that on Feb. 1 when they celebrate Megan’s 15th birthday at the annual Megan Hurckes Memorial Candlelight Bowl. The event begins at 7 p.m. at Arena Lanes, 4700 W. 103rd St., Oak Lawn. Tickets for bowling (which is optional) are $10. You can also sponsor a lane for eight bowlers for $150. A cash bar is available and raffles and chances will be held throughout the evening.
The event is a good time, I guarantee it. Come out and see some familiar faces, bowl, eat, drink and, most importantly, take a moment to tell Jerry and Maryann Hurckes that Megan’s lives on, not just in our hearts and memories, but in the lives of so many children who’ve benefitted from the scholarship foundation, which was formed shortly after her death.
The foundation has raised thousands of dollars for scholarships awarded to students from Oak Lawn Community High School, Simmons Middle School, Kolb Elementary School and Saint Louis de Montfort. Money also has been contributed to Westside Baseball and the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum, where the Megan’s Maze exhibit is on display for thousands of children to enjoy.
The Hurckes’ have said they never would have survived the tragedy of Megan’s death without the support of friends and community members. Let’s show them that love and support once again on Feb. 1 while remembering Megan as well.
For information or tickets, call (708) 599-7302 or visit www.meganhurckesscholarshipfund.com. If you can’t make it, donations can be sent to the Megan Hurckes Scholarship Foundation, 7036 W. 96th St., Oak Lawn, Ill., 60453.