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Local News

New nonprofit Kids Like AJ to hold benefit to raise funds to help children

An upcoming event in honor of AJ Freund will benefit area organizations that help children.

Chad Carpenter – founder, executive director, and secretary of new nonprofit Kids Like AJ – and his fiancée Jenni Burns are hosting a Kids Like AJ benefit in honor of the 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy who allegedly was killed by his parents April 15.

The event will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.

Carpenter had the idea to host the event after he visited the home at 94 Dole Ave., where AJ allegedly was killed.

Carpenter said he founded the Kids Like AJ nonprofit May 28 to help prevent child abuse and fill a need in the community.

This is the first event for Kids Like AJ. Carpenter hopes after this event that the organization can hire professionals to teach people how to recognize and approach child abuse through classes and talking with teachers.

The band Modern Day Romeos originally was schedule to perform at a different event, Annual MDR Fan Appreciation Fest, on Saturday, but decided to put it on hold to instead perform at the Kids Like AJ benefit.

“We decided to put a hold on our event, as to not steer attention away from something so important, and then to be a part of this amazing event,” the group said in a news release. “This is something we lived through up close and personal with the rest of the community, and we will do what we can to help out.” 

All the proceeds from the event will benefit CASA of McHenry County, Prevent Child Abuse America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County and Let It Be Us, according to the news release. The goal currently is set at $250,000. 

There will be games, raffles, food and drink, live music and therapy all day, according to the release. Jeff Kleinschmidt, owner of Big Bang Festivals, booked the bands for the event and said Modern Day Romeos, Winnie Cooper, Change is Good and 2 Beer Tommy Band will be performing.

Michael Muir, treasurer of Kids like AJ, and Chris Rounds, the organization’s president, also helped to put the event together.

For information and where to buy tickets visit at

Children 5 and younger are free; ages 6 to 15 are $6.94; and adults 16 and older are $12.24, including fees.

Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham are charged with murder in connection with their son, AJ’s, death. The pair is accused of concealing the boy’s body for several days before falsely reporting him missing April 18. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had investigated abuse and neglect claims at the family’s home since AJ was born.

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