The Chicago Bears and a Glencoe woman have something wonderful in common.
Both care about the Highland Park community as it heals in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the July 4th parade and have chosen to act.
The Bears invited the Highland Park High School football team to the first day of their training camp July 27 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest and donated $80,000 to the Highland Park Community Foundation. The woman, meanwhile, arranged for an ice cream truck to provide free treats to a Highland Park neighborhood.
Both gestures were thoughtful—and, well, cool.
“The Bears did it right,” says Highland Park High School Athletic Director Paul Harris, who, like first year HPHS varsity football coach Anthony Kopp, is an HPHS graduate. “They wanted to do something that would help our program and our community, and they definitely accomplished that. We’re appreciative.
“The Glencoe mom,” Harris adds, “was generous, too. I don’t know her name but giving people like her usually don’t seek recognition. There have been many acts of generosity and kindness these past several weeks, all with the residents of Highland Park and Highwood in mind.”
The HPHS football players and coaches, as well as more than 1,000 folks affiliated with 60 nonprofits, arrived at the Bears’ facility on the first day of the team’s 2022 training camp, which doubled as a Community Day. The Giants’ gridders watched practice, met the professional players, received autographs, posed for photos, and participated in a number of activities.
“It was a special day for our players and our program,” says Kopp (HPHS Class of 2009), who also coaches girls’ gymnastics at the school. “We appreciate everything the Bears did to make it happen. It’s truly a first-class organization.
“We are forever grateful.”
Adds Harris: “I heard great feedback from the players and coaches. What they’ll probably remember the most about that day is how the Bears made them feel.”
Harris characterizes this summer as a “challenging” and a “great” one for the school’s football team and athletes in other sports preparing for the 2022-2023 academic year.
“Anthony and his staff have done an amazing job with the football program (since the tragedy),” says Harris, a 1988 HPHS graduate who coached varsity boys basketball and varsity boys golf before becoming the athletic director at his alma mater in 2021.
“He’s a great person, a humble leader. When Anthony was a Highland Park athlete, people followed him because of his deep-down belief in himself. His humility and empathy have served him well.
“But what I’m saying about his program, I can say the same things about the programs run by our school’s other coaches. Through their leadership, everybody is sticking together and supporting one another.”
The NFL matched the Bears’ $80,000 donation to the Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF), per a published report. The HPCF addresses unmet needs and expands opportunities for all Highland Park and Highwood residents. On July 5, it established the July 4th Shooting Response Fund to help those directly impacted by the mass shooting in Highland Park.
All contributions to the Response Fund will go directly to the victims and survivors or the organizations that support them. Seven people perished and more than three dozen others were wounded at the Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park.
For more information about the Highland Park Community Foundation and to donate to its July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund, visit hpcfil.org.