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Update / Walk On! in Memory of Chuck Papanos is set for July 28

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Above / The community gathered July 30, 2021, at the Grand Pavilion, located on the Riverwalk’s west end, to honor late park manager Chuck Papanos while raising funds in support of lymphoma research.

A memorial rock near the Grand Pavilion is a tribute to Chuck Papanos. (PN File Photo)

Update, May 29, 2024 / Naperville’s Walk-On for Chuck team is moving to at Montrose Harbor/Grove 16 on Sunday morning, July 28 at 10 AM. 

The Naperville Walk-On for Chuck (TEAM CHUCK) is joining forces with the downtown Chicago LRF event, which last year had more than 600 participants. The team will be joining the LRF Walk downtown and bringing our pick-a-prize baskets and auction to help grow this event. TEAM CHUCK will be officially recognized and welcomed with a moment of silence in memory of Chuck Papanos. We look forward to continuing to do something on behalf of those whose lymphoma battle is yet to come.

Since its launch in 2021, the event has raised nearly $110,000. To register a team or make a donation for this year, go to http://support.lymphoma.org/goto/_Team_Chuck.

Papanos managed Naperville’s Riverwalk and the many community parks on the city’s north side, including Centennial Beach, Nike Sports Complex, and the Millennium Carillon. For nearly 20 years, he handled details large and small for events like the Riverwalk Art Fair, the Sprint Triathlon and the Healing Field of Honor.

When he faced a battle with T-cell lymphoma, Papanos was determined to make good things happen for anyone touched by this disease. Before his death, he and his wife, Ann Marie, chose to support the Lymphoma Research Foundation, which has funded innovative research for over 27 years.

“Chuck decided that if we couldn’t change the course of his case, we could try to change the course for others,” noted Ann Marie Papanos. “He had a saying: ‘Doing nothing? Not an option.’ I’m so grateful for the people participating in this walk and doing something—for Chuck, and all who are touched by lymphoma.”

For additional information, contact our event team at  WalkOnForChuck@gmail.com.

Original Post, July 6, 2021 / The inaugural Walk On! in Memory of Chuck Papanos, benefiting the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF), will take place on Fri., July 30, beginning at the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion. 

The 1.5 mile walk will take place on the west extension of the Riverwalk. 

Registration will begin at 6PM with the walk stepping off at 7PM.  To donate or participate, go to Lymphoma.org/NapervilleWalk.

Chuck Papanos touched more people than you can imagine, noted longtime friend and colleague Jan Erickson, former Riverwalk Administrator for the City of Naperville. Prior to his passing last summer, he managed the Naperville Riverwalk and the many community parks on the city’s north side.

For nearly 20 years, colleagues say, he was the “quiet hero” behind the Riverwalk’s care as well as events like the Riverwalk Art Fair, the Sprint Triathlon and the Healing Field of Honor.

In 2020, a PN flashback to the Field of Honor with 2009 American flags at Rotary Hill featured one of the all-volunteer special events under Chuck Papanos’ watch.

“You name it, he was there at 5AM making it happen,” said Erickson. “That included managing the logistics for all of the special events that happened on the Riverwalk including the Last Fling. He also was there to help with the day-to-day responsibilities of clearing snow, sandbagging for hours during floods at Centennial Beach and walking the 1.5-mile pathway to ensure that it was up to his high standards.”

Symptoms first surfaced in 2016

Chuck Papanos

Erickson explained that Chuck began experiencing symptoms in 2016 and, in 2017, noticed a small growth below his jaw. He and his wife, Ann Marie, saw doctors at local hospitals and, eventually, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Ann Marie says she believes their medical team did everything possible—but even so, it took 18 months to get a diagnosis.

“T-cell lymphoma is a cancer that’s notorious for hiding,” Ann Marie said. “Chuck decided that if we couldn’t change the course of his case, we could try to change the course for others. He participated in studies at Mayo Clinic and looked for other ways to help fight this lethal disease.”

In the months since her husband’s death from T-cell lymphoma, Ann Marie has been haunted by one question: What if he had been diagnosed earlier?

She’s building a coalition of friends, community members and Naperville leaders to find answers by raising money for research into new approaches to lymphoma diagnosis and treatment. Before his death, Chuck and Ann Marie chose to support the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) which has funded innovative research for 25 years.

“They were a great resource for us as far as education,” Ann Marie said. The LRF has also backed studies led by Chuck’s Mayo Clinic oncologist and hematologist, Dr. Gita Thanarajasingam.

The inaugural Walk On! in Memory of Chuck Papanos, benefiting the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF), will take place on July 30, on the Riverwalk.  Ann Marie is joined by friends and family, community organization members, city leaders, Chuck’s former park district colleagues—and also Dr. Thanarajasingam, leading oncologist at Mayo Clinic: Rochester.

Chuck had a saying: “Do nothing? Not an option!”  With this walk the community will have the chance to do something for Chuck and for anyone else touched by lymphoma.

For more information visit Lymphoma.org/NapervilleWalk.

Story submitted by Jan Erickson. PN File Photos.

Editor’s Note / Getting to know Chuck Papanos over the course of 20 years always was a pleasure. His “behind the scenes” and award-winning efforts on behalf of community events and the Naperville Park District were captured whenever possible. One of our favorite stories was featured in 2015 when Chuck welcomed us to learn about hitch-hiking zebra mussels in the Paddleboat Quarry.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.
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