CHICAGO — For the first time since the death of the football legend, the family of Dick Butkus is speaking out to fans.

Their message to those in Chicago and around the country is one of thanks.

On the X account for Butkus on Thursday morning, the family released a statement which was a tribute to the College and Pro Football Hall of Famer who is one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of Chicago.

The former Chicago Vocational School, University of Illinois, and Chicago Bears standout died at the age of 80 on October 5.

“Please join us in celebrating the life and legacy of #51 Dick Butkus.

Dick lived an extraordinary life representing the heart and soul of Chicago, both on and off the field.

We Want to thank you all for the outpouring of support. All the messages, notes, and memories you shared during this difficult time. Each has meant the world to us.

Go Bears. Go Illini”

Matthew Butkus and The Butkus Family

As part of the family’s celebration of Dick’s legacy on and off the field, Team Butkus is dedicating their tailgate on Sunday at the Billy Goat on Navy Pier to the legendary Chicago Bears linebacker.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with the proceeds going to the charity, with premium tickets including transportation to the Bears-Vikings game by boat. Team Butkus has been holding these tailgates for the past two years in an effort to raise funds for local charities.

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Tributes to Butkus have come pouring in since the announcement of his death, starting with the Bears’ game against the Commanders that night at FedEx Field. A pregame moment of silence was held just a few hours after Butkus’ death was announced.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Illinois wore special stickers on their helmets along with a pregame moment of silence ahead of their game against Nebraska at Memorial Stadium last Friday. Head coach Bret Bielema wore the initials “DB” on his jacket during the game.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Fans were also encouraged by the school to leave flowers and tributes at the statue of Butkus located outside the Illini’s football training facility.