Community gathers in prayer, song for sick child
More information Visit www.becauseofcollin.org
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:10PM
NORTHBROOK — It was the Rev. Robert Heinz’s idea to keep the lighting soft for Tuesday’s prayer service inside St. Norbert Church.
Four candles flickered on a pedestal in front of the altar for this 30-minute service. Advent season in a Catholic Church such as St. Norbert generally features an advent wreath with four pillar candles.
Collin Wehr, 11, was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was eight.
Those four tiered candles could have represented Collin, his father Ray, his mother Joan and his sister Ramsay, a Glenbrook North High School student.
Three hundred friends and neighbors gathered, an impressive turnout, said Father Bob, as he is known at St. Norbert. Collin’s family did not attend,
Collin’s teammates wore their Northbrook Junior Spartans football league green and gold jerseys.
“You know,” said Howard Schultz, CEO/executive director of the North Suburban YMCA, “We’re just saddened as a community and stand with the family to do whatever we can to give comfort and support.”
Jim Degnan, a Northbrook resident since 1972, didn’t know Collin, but attended because his son Jack, 7, died years earlier from brain cancer.
“In 1984, my wife (JoAnn) and I went through this experience,” said Degnan. “And St. Norbert could have not been more supportive.”
For three years, Collin has prompted fundraisers, humble neighborhood sales of pumpkins. Pumpkins were sold in cold parking lots and at Glenbrook North High School football games where volunteers set out festive bales of hay to attract buyers.
“I drove out today and saw all kinds of pumpkins being sold for Collin, that kind of impact strikes at my core,” said Ray Wehr, Northbrook Community Relations Commission chairman, last October.
For Collin’s fans who couldn’t attend, Father Bob had a wireless microphone. The audience’s interpretation of “Bear Down, Chicago Bears!” was audibly captured to playback for Collin’s family.
Collin, who wears hearing aids, requested his set come in Bears orange and blue. For a Make-A-Wish request, he chose to visit to Halas Hall in Lake Forest. Collin has become close chums of several Bears players, regularly emailing.
Collin appeared at an Oct. 23, 2011 fundraiser at Northbrook’s Marcello’s. He attended football games, including that big night when he was the honorary coin tosser and captain two seasons ago for the GBN varsity football team.
Then came the Dec. 1, 2012 email from Collin’s parents meant for a close circle of associates.
“Thank you all, one last time,” wrote Joan and Ray Wehr.
Said Robin Bear, Wehr family spokesperson after the prayer service: “No doctor or hospital is going to tell Collin how long he has on this earth.”
Besides Father Bob, three local clergy members addressed the audience: The Rev. John Berg of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, the Rev. Melissa Early of Northbrook United Methodist Church and Kamyar Jabarri of the Northbrook Ba’Hai community.
“You have created a miracle, a miracle of barn raising, in a suburb just north of Chicago,” Early said. “Thanks be to God.”