It started with a tragedy.
Several neighbors of the La Grange and Brookfield community died in the past year — including Lyons Township High School Board Member William Purcell — leaving behind mourning friends and fatherless children.
In the months that followed, those who grieved gathered at each other’s homes, talking about the ones they lost and their surviving children.
It was here, during these informal meetings, that The Legacy Guild was born.
The Legacy Guild, a La Grange-based nonprofit that officially incorporated in September, is a group of roughly 30 men dedicated to providing a college scholarship program for high school students in Lyons Township District 204 who’ve lost a parent.
“We wanted to do something meaningful to help kids,” said founding member Brian Davis of La Grange, 48. “We’re just getting off the ground, but already, we’ve received tremendous support.”
The process of incorporating an organization into a nonprofit isn’t easy, but because the group had several members working on the task, it wasn’t nearly as difficult.
“The diverse background of the group makes it awesome,” said Legacy Guild President Jack DaDan of La Grange. “Someone knows someone who knows how to do something. It really made it easy.”
Group members said the recent death of school board member Purcell, as well as La Grange resident Dale Fisher, opened their eyes to the needs of parentless children — especially their continuing education.
“We learned that (Purcell) had another side of his life we didn’t know about,” said DaDan, 50. “He had this deep faith that helped him through tough times.”
The group of men were friends who’d commonly see each other as they took their kids to and from school and athletic practice. Today they’ve grown closer, and meet every other Thursday at different members’ homes to put together their goals for The Legacy Guild.
Davis said The Legacy Guild is Christian-based, although not strictly so. Members discuss how to be a better father, husband, son, brother, neighbor and friend — something that transcends all faith backgrounds.
“I’ve learned a ton about myself and about the other guys,” DaDan said.
The group is comprised of people from all different occupational backgrounds, including lawyers, accountants and salesmen. To raise money, guild members turned to an interest that many of them share: Golf.
The Legacy Guild will host its first-annual golf outing at noon Friday at Ravisloe Country Club, 18231 Park Ave., Homewood.
And although not a single golf club has been swung nor ball sliced, the guild’s first fundraiser is already a success. The event — which costs $150 per golfer — is sold out with about 132 people ready to tee off and more on a waiting list.
“We’ve had an unbelievable outpouring of people,” Davis said.
Corporate sponsorships are still available, ranging from “La Grange Road Executive Sponsor” at $10,000 to “Hole Sponsors” at $250, with several options in between.
While the organization is relatively new and its members are still figuring out the best way to hand out scholarships, the group agrees that the criteria requires a student to have lost a parent while living in Lyons Township District 204, the district that encompasses Lyons Township High School, and be in financial need.
However, Davis said the student doesn’t necessarily have to go to LT. The first scholarship will be awarded next year.
“I’ve known a few guys in my neighborhood that were my age who passed away, and it just tears you up and you want to do something about it,” Davis said. “You want to do something positive about it.”