CHICAGO — Next weekend, a very special Chicagoan is set to be honored for his decades of charitable work in numerous organizations to help people in need on the South Side and south suburbs.
As he has done for decades now, Jim McKeever, 54, recently made his an annual drop-off of toys at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park.
The McKeever family collects toys all year as part of the Kevin Dowling Toy Drive.
“Kevin’s my brother-in-law, he was in our wedding,” McKeever said. “Great kid. He was 17-years-old and just playing football at Mount Carmel High School, practicing in extreme heat and got sick.”
Dowling died unexpectedly in 1995 from complications of heat stroke. McKeever and his wife Peggy have kept his memory alive ever since.
“We wanted to do something good from something horrific,” McKeever said. “As scholarship fund was created, supported at 100 percent level for 21 years.”
But recent years brought a cancer diagnosis. McKeever was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2016 and the battle required stronger treatment last year. Peggy thought it might slow him down.
“I really didn’t think that he would be able to continue on with everything he does,” she said. “But he did and he did great. … He’s been this way his whole life. This is the way he great up and his family is like this. I’m not surprised at all.”
McKeever was surprised to hear he’s being honored by Little Company of Mary Hospital as this year’s recipient of the Venerable Mary Potter Humanitarian award.
“We were afraid he might not accept because he is so humble about what he does and does it with a big generous heart for so many organizations on the South Side,” the foundation Brian Lepacek said. “He’s just very involved here on the Southwest Side of Chicago. He just gives, gives, gives, even while he himself was going through his own battle with cancer.”
He’s beat that battle for now and McKeever remains focused on his charity efforts.
“I don’t believe I do anything that other people don’t do,” he said. “I have been told otherwise. What I do with the help of so many other people, that’s it’s pretty impressive.”
McKeever will receive his humanitarian award next weekend at the Crystal Heart Ball which will be emceed by WGN’s Patrick Elwood and Nancy Loo.
Crystal Heart Ball 2019
Saturday, Feb. 2
The Field Museum