Event raises money for children of late Palatine police officer

  • Dan Collins, left, of the nonprofit Heroes Family Fund, joins Kimberly Dahlem and her brother, Mike Kacen, at Oak Alley Saloon in Palatine. Dahlem's husband, Mark, who was a Palatine police officer, died of brain cancer in February, and the evening was a fundraiser to aid in their children's education.

      Dan Collins, left, of the nonprofit Heroes Family Fund, joins Kimberly Dahlem and her brother, Mike Kacen, at Oak Alley Saloon in Palatine. Dahlem's husband, Mark, who was a Palatine police officer, died of brain cancer in February, and the evening was a fundraiser to aid in their children's education. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • A photo of Palatine police officer Mark Dahlem was displayed at his funeral at Holy Family Church in Inverness.

      A photo of Palatine police officer Mark Dahlem was displayed at his funeral at Holy Family Church in Inverness. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Oak Alley Saloon in Palatine was packed Thursday night for a fundraiser to benefit an education fund for the children of village police officer Mark Dahlem, who died of brain cancer in February.

      Oak Alley Saloon in Palatine was packed Thursday night for a fundraiser to benefit an education fund for the children of village police officer Mark Dahlem, who died of brain cancer in February. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Oak Alley Saloon in Palatine was jammed Thursday night for a fundraiser to benefit an education fund for the children of village police officer Mark Dahlem, who died of brain cancer in February. The evening included raffle prizes seen here.

      Oak Alley Saloon in Palatine was jammed Thursday night for a fundraiser to benefit an education fund for the children of village police officer Mark Dahlem, who died of brain cancer in February. The evening included raffle prizes seen here. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/22/2019 8:23 AM

With Oak Alley Saloon in Palatine buzzing from a packed house and a bunch of televisions tuned to first-round NCAA men's basketball tournament games, Mark Dahlem would have been in his element.

Dahlem, a veteran Palatine police officer who died from brain cancer Feb. 5, went to Oak Alley with a dozen colleagues for about 10 consecutive years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A large image of Dahlem in his police uniform covered a window inside the bar and grill during a fundraiser Thursday night to benefit of the future education of his children, 15-year-old Abigail and 10-year old Jack. Palatine police Cmdr. Kyle Ingebrigtsen received assistance from officers Angela Bonneville and Chad Felde in organizing the bash.

"On the opening day of March Madness, we would take half a day and we would come here and start the day watching the NCAAs, having a few cocktails and enjoy a day of basketball," Ingebrigtsen said. "So it was a big-time tradition for us. So when we decided to do the fundraiser it made sense to do it on this day to keep that tradition alive."

Dahlem, 48, died four days after colleagues honored him with a retirement ceremony while he was in hospice care.

In December 2017, just eight days after seeing a doctor about severe headaches and five days after emergency surgery to remove a tumor, Dahlem learned he had glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Kimberly Dahlem, 46, said it was overwhelming seeing the Oak Alley Saloon crowd gather to celebrate her late husband.

"Truly, brothers and sisters to all of us," she said of Palatine police. "They've been wonderful in taking care of our kids and just checking in on us daily, just making sure we've got everything we need, how we're doing."

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As part of the evening, Dan Collins, chairman of the nonprofit Heroes Family Fund, quietly gave a $10,000 check to Kimberly Dahlem to go toward the education fund for the couple's children. Heroes is an arm of the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association.

"When they said there's an educational trust for two children, we figured it was the least we could do," said Collins, a Skokie Fire Department lieutenant. "It's not a lot of money to get started nowadays with college costs, but we figured $10,000 can get that started."

Dahlem, a Cary resident, was a Palatine police officer from 1995 to 2019. Besides his work serving and protecting Palatine, he was a youth football and baseball coach in Cary.

"He was a phenomenal guy, phenomenal cop, phenomenal dad, phenomenal husband, phenomenal friend," Ingebrigtsen said. "He was just one of those guys. Like I said before, we are truly -- we, all these people here -- are humbled and honored to have known him and walk the same path as him."

Ingebrigtsen said contributions to Dahlem children's education fund may be made via the nonprofit Palatine Police and Fire Benevolent Association's website at ppfba.org.

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