Cyclist from Arlington Heights dies at end of charity ride in California

  • Glen Brown, 57, of Arlington Heights died June 11 in a single-bike crash as he was reaching the finish line of a charity ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

    Glen Brown, 57, of Arlington Heights died June 11 in a single-bike crash as he was reaching the finish line of a charity ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Courtesy of Janet Brown McCarthy

  • Glen Brown and sister Janet Brown McCarthy attended Arlington Heights' Memorial Day parade just days before Brown left for an HIV/AIDS charity bike ride in California.

    Glen Brown and sister Janet Brown McCarthy attended Arlington Heights' Memorial Day parade just days before Brown left for an HIV/AIDS charity bike ride in California. Courtesy of Janet Brown McCarthy

 
 
Updated 6/16/2022 6:01 PM

An experienced cyclist from Arlington Heights was a block away from the finish line of his 545-mile AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles last weekend when he fell and died in a single-bike crash, officials said.

Glen Brown, 57, was on his third such ride to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS, having completed a Minneapolis-to-Chicago ride and a Boston-to-New York ride in years past.

 

Authorities in California haven't released many details about the June 11 crash, which remains under investigation.

Back home, Brown's family members say they've received an outpouring of support from his fellow bike riders and the many friends he came to know over the years in Arlington Heights and the surrounding area.

Though he went out to California for the weeklong race on his own, Brown met up with other teams along the way, said his sister, Janet Brown McCarthy.

"If you want to go out by yourself, you will not be alone. And especially with a personality like Glen, where you were never a stranger with him," she said. "He was just feeling the unconditional love from everyone. It's families and seniors and every color of the rainbow there."

Awareness of HIV/AIDS was a passionate cause for Brown, who wrote on his fundraising page that he personally rode for friends who lost their lives to the disease. He raised nearly $7,000 for this year's race -- a number that has grown after his death, as many friends and supporters have made contributions in his honor.

Donations, which benefit the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, can be made at tofighthiv.org/goto/glenbrown2022.

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Brown's family has a long history in Arlington Heights going back four generations, when there were dirt roads and it was known as the Town of Dunton. His grandfather built the Beverly Lanes bowling alley. His grandmother was part of the first graduating class at Arlington High School.

Brown -- Class of 1982 -- was in one of the last classes at the iconic school that closed in 1984.

In high school, he was an accomplished clarinetist -- achieving top honors in the state -- and drum major of the school's marching band.

His sister, who is a few years older, also was in the band.

"When we would practice, we'd be out there right before school would start every August and we'd march all the streets in Arlington Heights. And everyone would sit out -- all their chairs would be out -- and everybody would be cheering us on," Brown McCarthy said. "It was really kind of Norman Rockwell to be honest with you."

In recent years, Brown was a senior designer at Walter E. Smithe Furniture in Vernon Hills, becoming a million-dollar seller in 2021.

His family is planning a celebration of life later this year.

"We're just gutted," said Brown McCarthy, who said her brother was her best friend. "It's just so unbelievable, but yet there's such a joy to know that he was so happy there and he felt so proud to finish and to fundraise this money. In that regard, it was a beautiful end for him."

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