BERWYN – A group of Berwyn parents with children who have disabilities and special needs have got just two words for Berwyn Police Chief James Ritz: Thank you.
Mothers on a Mission held its third annual BOO at the Bowling Alley fundraiser event and party Oct. 26 at Striker Lanes in Berwyn to raise money for the group, throw a party for children who often don’t get invited to parties, and to say thank you to someone who one of the founders said shows how Berwyn cares.
“Chief Ritz has been doing a lot of fundraising for Special Olympics,” said M.O.M. founder Kathy Bedard, who has three children with special needs. “[M.O.M.] wanted to thank him, so we went to Governor Pat Quinn.”
Ritz said it all came as a big surprise to him.
“I thought I was walking into a M.O.M. meeting,” Ritz said. “I walked in and saw Mayor Lovero standing there and I said, ‘What’s going on?’ I was overwhelmed. We’re all happy to jump on board and be a part of these kids lives and help them out in any way we can.”
Ritz was quick to share the honor with members of the Department’s Special Olympics Committee, who Ritz said “just embraced Special Olympics with open arms.”
The committee raised about $17,300 over the the past year for Special Olympics Illinois
Gov. Quinn drafted a letter of recognition that was framed and presented to Ritz, along with an Appreciation Award from the organization, which serves as a resource center for parents who have children with disabilities.
“I have three children with disabilities so [Special Olympics] has always been near and dear to my heart,” Bedard said.
“To finally have Berwyn involved in Special Olympics through Chief Ritz is amazing.”
The event drew about 100 guests and featured raffles, a silent auction and free pizza for all who attended, and of course, costumes.
But the highlight of the afternoon came when Ricky Bedard, Cathy Bedard’s 22-year-old son, decided to take on the emcee duties when he grabbed the microphone as Ritz was talking about the importance of fundraising.
“When Ricky took the microphone from the chief we all broke up laughing,” Bedard said. “He started saying, ‘Come on Everybody! You have to applaud. Clap!’ He just got everybody going. We got hysterical.That’s my kid, he’s not shy.”
Bedard also expressed her appreciation to the folks at Stryker Lanes.
“These past years they’ve never raised prices,” Bedard said. “They staff are extremely patient with the children. The patience of all the people there is amazing. I love them.”
Bedard said a final tally of the funds raised for the night hasn’t been done yet as some auction and raffle items are still available, including a diamond necklace appraised for about $2,400.