Palatine police grow beards to benefit hospice in memory of colleague
Palatine police officers have a few more days to break department policy by wearing beards on the job in exchange for donations to the JourneyCare hospice in Barrington in memory of late colleague Mark Dahlem.
Dahlem died from brain cancer there early this year, and Sgt. Marty McCarthy said various department divisions pitched in cash contributions for JourneyCare and participated in the national No-Shave November to raise cancer awareness. At least 30 Palatine police employees joined at the beginning of the month, but have since shaved their beards.
"A lot of guys really keep him in their thoughts and never want to forget him and do what we can for the family and the cause," McCarthy said of Dahlem, who was his training officer.
Dahlem, 48, a veteran Palatine police officer who was married with two children, died from the aggressive form of brain cancer Feb. 5. The Cary resident died four days after roughly 60 police colleagues jammed into his JourneyCare room and honored him with a retirement ceremony.
Police Cmdr. Bryce Baker said the Barrington hospice was very accommodating to the department while Dahlem was there. Officers were at Dahlem's JourneyCare room 24 hours a day after he entered the hospice in January.
Officer Max Gazcarz said he was fortunate that he first got to know Dahlem while a Palatine police intern a couple years ago. He also appreciates the greater meaning of remembering Dahlem while getting to break department policy -- it allows mustaches but not other facial hair -- by wearing his beard for the rest of the month.
"I don't personally love shaving, so my (beard) is messy, but I'm happy to contribute," Gazcarz said before starting his shift Monday. "I'm glad Palatine is doing it for the first time."
Cmdr. David Weeks said the No-Shave November effort to benefit JourneyCare in memory of Dahlem came together quickly and donations only have been raised in-house. Palatine's police chief will have the final call, but Weeks said he hopes the No-Shave November returns.
Weeks said anyone wishing to make a donation in Dahlem's memory may do so at journeycare.org.
In December 2017, just eight days after seeing a doctor to check on severe headaches and five days after emergency surgery to remove a tumor, Dahlem learned he had glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Besides his work serving and protecting Palatine from 1995 to 2019, Dahlem was a youth football and baseball coach in Cary.
JourneyCare President/CEO Kimberly Hobson expressed her gratitude to Palatine police for raising donations for the organization.
"It was our privilege to care for him and his family," Hobson said, "and we are honored that this effort will raise awareness of the expert, compassionate care that our teams work to provide for those living with serious illness in the Chicago region."