Glen Ellyn community honors boy who died after accident at Wheaton gym
Mourners are displaying hundreds of blue ribbons around Glen Ellyn in honor of a 7-year-old boy who died last Tuesday after what police say was an apparent accident at a children's gym in Wheaton.
There's been such an outpouring of support for the family of Brady Daniel Doherty that the Glen Ellyn Lions Club had to suspend requests for ribbons Sunday in order to manage a list of homes wanting to participate in the communitywide memorial for the second-grader at St. Petronille Catholic School.
The club announced the effort on Thursday night, offering to tie blue ribbons around parkway trees to show support for Brady's family. Blue was his favorite color, and it's also St. Petronille's school color.
"I didn't think it would touch as many lives as it did," Club President Rachel Benning said.
Club volunteers and others have physically tied 300 ribbons around parkway trees and received requests for at least another 150. Well-wishers from Wheaton, Naperville and as far as Canada have posted Facebook messages pledging to pay their respects to Brady's loved ones through the ribbons.
Benning tied ribbons after work Friday, on Saturday and until about 8 p.m. Sunday -- "as long as I could see," she said. The club is now providing ribbons while supplies last at Paul's Shoe Service during normal business hours. Lions Club member Doug Herwaldt owns the downtown Glen Ellyn shop.
"There is literally no ribbon in any stores," Benning said.
She can't imagine the Doherty family's grief, but she hopes they can take some comfort in the community members who want to help.
"I can't imagine what a feeling like that is for someone to lose someone in that fashion, especially knowing there's so much life to kids," she said.
Brady died two days after the accident at the My Gym play center in the Danada Square East shopping center at the northeast corner of Butterfield and Naperville roads.
"All initial indications point to this incident being accidental in nature," Wheaton Deputy Police Chief P.J. Youker said Monday.
Police and firefighters were called to My Gym about 3 p.m. Sept. 30 for the report of an injured child. Initial information at the scene indicated the boy fell from what appeared to be "miniature zip line equipment" and suffered a head and neck injury, Youker said.
The gym closed last week and reopened Monday without the so-called "space flight" ride, a spokeswoman for the franchiser said in an email. Owner Lisa Miroballi addressed Brady's death last Friday in a message to gym members.
"As you may know, there was a tragic accident last Sunday at the gym involving a seven-year-old boy," Miroballi said in the message provided by a communications firm. "We have expressed our deepest condolences to the family and our hearts go out to everyone touched by this tragedy.
"We have closed the gym for the rest of the week out of respect for the family. The accident occurred on the space flight, an activity that has been enjoyed by millions of children around the world over the past 35 years."
The Lions Club initially didn't seek donations for the ribbon display, but people have contributed anyway, giving upward of $300, Benning said. After paying for the project expenses, Benning plans to suggest to the club to donate the funds to Brady's family in "whichever way they chose." Anyone interested in donating can contact her at email@example.com.
Brady's visitation and memorial service have been held.