By Larry Atseff

On Saturday morning, August 21, Hinsdale area residents gathered at Veeck Park to witness the dedication of the 47th Street Bridge to Brooks Edwin Tonn, who passed away on December 1, 2017 at age 10 after a brave battle with rare childhood cancer. Illinois Minority Leader Jim Durkin opened the ceremony by remarking, “I didn’t know Brooks, but I think we all got to know him in some way. This is a young man who in his life and with his passing, has brought this community together like nothing I’ve ever witnessed in my life.” In memory of Brooks, his grandmother Nancy Keenan along with community members reached out to state representatives to request the bridge be dedicated in Brooks’ memory. It was accomplished by unanimously passing a joint resolution in the Illinois General Assembly, led by Durkin, Suzy Glowiak-Hilton, John Curran, and Deanne Mazzochi, who were also in attendance.

Durkin added, “Brooks Tonn lived by the motto ‘have courage and be kind’.” Brooks’ parents, Rob and Nora Tonn were in Durkin’s office when the House resolution passed. “We do a lot of resolutions in Springfield honoring many people,” Durkin said, “but with this one, you could hear a pin drop in the House. I was honored to have his family with me to be able to experience that special moment, where we recognized this young man who has done so much to bring people together.” Tonn grew up in Hinsdale, excelled academically and participated actively in sports. The resolution stated that he was “always first on the field, and always ready for a pickup game”. He was a pitcher on the Hinsdale Red Dogs travel baseball team, quarterback on his Hinsdale Falcons football team; also enjoyed playing golf and swimming. His father, Rob, remarked, “He was always at the park.

Area residents attend the Brooks Edwin Tonn memorial bridge dedication on 47th st. at Veeck Park in Hinsdale IL

Brooks was a natural athlete, and he would stand by, waiting to join a pick-up game.” He smiled, saying, “He was a ‘park rat’. My number, growing up, was 13, and Brooks made that his number, too.” Nora, his mother said, “Kids just liked being around him.” Coincidentally, the legislative bill which passed was number 13. Tonn thanked the community and its inspiring effort to keep the blue and yellow cups on the bridge overpass fence spelling out “BROOKS STRONG” – a powerful symbol of love from a town that has been moved by a young boy who loved sports and just wanted to share the game with his friends. In further memory of Brooks, his family has established The Brooks Strong Foundation to aid families of young athletes who are battling cancer. Tonn thanked everyone for attending, and “for continuing to love and be inspired by Brooks. He led by example, and he showed us how to live.”

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