Above / The community is welcome to gather Friday, July 30, 2021, at the Grand Pavilion, located on the Riverwalk’s west end, to honor late park manager Chuck Papanos. First at noon, will be the dedication of the Chuck Papanos Honorary Garden, west of the pavilion. Later at 6PM, registration begins for a walk to raise funds in support of lymphoma research.
Updated post, July 30, 2021 / Family, friends, co-workers and alumni from the Naperville Park District gathered at the Chuck Papanos Honorary Garden, graced with American flags, to pay tribute to the dedication the Naperville Park District manager of the Naperville Riverwalk and the many community parks on the city’s north side, including Central Park.
Updated post, July 28, 2021 / Chuck Papanos Honorary Garden will be dedicated at noon, Fri., July 30, 2021.
The Naperville Park District is set to honor the late Chuck Papanos during a garden dedication at 12PM on Friday, July 30. The garden, which was planted by the Naperville Park District to honor Papanos in 2020, is located just west of the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion at 912 Sindt Court. The community is welcome to attend the ceremony.
Prior to his passing last summer from T-cell lymphoma, Papanos managed Naperville’s Riverwalk and many parks and facilities on the city’s north side, including Centennial Beach and Nike Sports Complex. For nearly 20 years, colleagues say he was the “quiet hero” behind the Riverwalk’s care as well as many community events.
Dedication will include the following speakers:
· Ray McGury – Park District Executive Director
· Bill Novack – City of Naperville’s Director of Transportation, Engineering and Development
· Jan Erickson – Former Riverwalk Administrator
· Rick Hitchcock – Founder of Hitchcock Design Group
· Park District’s North Parks and Riverwalk staff
· Ann Marie Papanos – Chuck’s wife
The community is welcome to attend and share special memories in honor of Chuck Papanos.
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.
“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
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.