Brendan Cavanagh named Glen Ellyn Park District's Volunteer of the Year

  • Brendan Cavanagh, left, poses with Glen Ellyn Park District board president Julia Nephew at the Glen Ellyn Community Awards Breakfast.

    Brendan Cavanagh, left, poses with Glen Ellyn Park District board president Julia Nephew at the Glen Ellyn Community Awards Breakfast. Courtesy of Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce

Updated 3/8/2018 10:14 PM

Brendan Cavanagh was named the Glen Ellyn Park District Volunteer of the Year for 2017 at the annual Glen Ellyn Community Awards Breakfast on Saturday, March 3.

The recognition event, hosted by the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce, honors individuals and organizations that have been active within the community while contributing toward the betterment of Glen Ellyn.


In coordination with his foundation, Charlie's Corner, Cavanagh collaborated with the Glen Ellyn Park District to introduce a new event in 2017: Glow in the Park Lantern Walk.

A benefit for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, the event raised over $8,000 which was donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Lurie Children's.

Cavanagh approached the park district with an idea to host a community event that would provide families an opportunity to celebrate the lives of children and family members who were lost too soon. The Cavanagh's experienced the loss of their son Charlie a few weeks into his young life.

"Our family is very appreciative of the love and support we received," he said. "We wanted to do an event that was fun and free to the community."

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In the walk around the lake on Sept. 17, 2017, participants carried creatively designed paper lanterns constructed from kits purchased for the event. Prior to the walk, there were activities for kids, music from Dave Rudolf, and food for sale.

"As the event was planned and developed, Brendan was active in securing sponsorships for the event, setting up paper lantern decorating classes, and distributing information about the event throughout Glen Ellyn," said Jeannie Robinson, assistant superintendent of recreation services. "He also worked with the Lurie Children's Circle of Friends program to set up a donation website through Charlie's Corner."

Through the efforts of the park district and Charlie's Corner Foundation, the Glow in the Park Lantern Walk was hugely successful with over 2,000 people in attendance and approximately 500 lanterns sold. The event will return on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.

"One of the park district's priorities is to provide outstanding programs and events within Glen Ellyn," said Julia Nephew, president of the Glen Ellyn Park District Board of Commissioners. "With the support of Brendan, his family and friends, and all those associated with Charlie's Corner Foundation, we were able to bring a tremendous new event to the community and bring attention, awareness, and support for Charlie's Corner and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago."


The Glen Ellyn Park District has nearly 1,000 volunteers throughout any given year and is dependent on the assistance of volunteers for nearly every aspect of its operations. Volunteers coach Little League, supervise swim meets, organize fundraising events, work concessions, perform restoration work at our parks, assist at special events, maintain baseball fields, serve on athletic and various citizens advisory committees, work tournaments, provide parking control, pick up litter, and serve as field marshals. Through the selflessness and efforts of the volunteers, the experience of the participants is enhanced, and the opportunities are greater.

For more information on the Glen Ellyn Park District, please visit

To learn more about on Charlie's Corner Foundation, please visit

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