Teachers who worked alongside Mark Reilly said he was always smiling.
Reilly would often help his colleagues solve technology issues, crack jokes to lighten the mood and remind them to keep calm when days at school felt chaotic.
“We call ourselves the Memorial family and that’s definitely what he was to us,” said Courtney Krzywon, who taught 5th grade with Reilly for four years. “So this is why this is so important for us, because as a member of our family we want to take care of his family.”
Parents, teachers and staff from Memorial Elementary School organized a fundraiser for Mark Reilly’s wife and kids, after he suddenly died on Nov. 15. Word and interest spread quickly about the event to the point where they had to move it from the Tinley Park VFW to Gaelic Park to accommodate the numbers.
About 275 people came to the event held on Thursday, and the preliminary total raised from the night is $7,500.
Over 50 local Vendors were on hand selling goods with proceeds going to the family, along with a quarter auction, bake sale and a split the pot event.
The Memorial Parent Teacher Association decided to refocus the fundraiser to benefit Reilly's family, while it was originally to raise money for the school's assemblies. The PTA assembled raffle baskets, and teachers held the bake sale and sold pizza from Ed and Joe's during the event.
“It’s been a beautiful display of humanity,” D146 Superintendent Jeff Stawick said at the fundraiser. “The way the Memorial staff wrapped their arms around their kids, and the way the district staff wrapped their arms around Memorial staff and the way the parents have wrapped their arms around all of us, it’s really been inspiring.”
Staff from the school came wearing red, white and blue tie-dye shirts with Memorial School logos on them, adding to the colors throughout the Gaelic Park ballroom. Throughout the night, the room was abuzz with bidding and smiles, as they supported Reilly’s family.
“He kept us level,” said Julie Russell, who taught for 10 of her 13 years at Memorial with Reilly. “He was a great guy and we miss him terribly.”