Friends pitch in to keep memorial scholarships
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY email@example.com August 1, 2013 10:25PM
Larry Killmer (from left), Homer Glen Mayor Jim Daley and John Kooi meet at the Homer Stallions football complex named in honor of Larry's son Kevin. | Susan DeMar Lafferty~Sun-Times Media
Killmer feted for ‘making a difference’
As Homer Glen Mayor Jim Daley recently proclaimed Thursday as Kevin Killmer and Michelle Killmer Ivanich Day, he also presented their father, Larry Killmer, with a “make a difference” award.
Larry was the “real catalyst” behind the development of the football field that bears his son’s name, Daley said.
“Without him this (football complex) would not exist,’” said Daley, who served as president of Stallions football long before he was mayor.
“Homer Stallions would not be Homer Stallions without Larry Killmer. He is the backbone of this organization to this day. Larry is still here after all he’s gone through. Like the ‘Madhouse on Madison,’ this is Larry’s house,” Daley said in honoring Killmer at the July 23 village board meeting.
Killmer was one of the founding fathers of the Homer Stallions youth football program, for which his son Kevin played football and daughter Michelle was a cheerleader.
Killmer and “his gang of 18” co-signed a note for $59,000 in 1985 to launch the program, and years later, raised $25,000 in two days, laid the sod and installed the lights and worked out a land swap with the Homer Township Public Library to develop the Stallions complex, Daley said.
Killmer also was the voice who called the games and continues to serve as equipment manager.
“It keeps me going,” said Killmer, who lost his wife and two children to cancer.
“This is not about me. It’s about my kids,” Killmer said. “It’s about keeping their memory alive and helping others in the process.”
A benefit to raise money for the Kevin Killmer and Michelle Killmer Memorial Scholarship Funds will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday at Pelican Harry’s Sports Grill, 14807 Founders Crossing, Homer Glen.
Updated: September 10, 2013 6:02AM
Larry Killmer’s goals have long been to keep alive the memories of his two children and to help other kids along the way.
Since his son Kevin died of cancer at age 18 in 1994, Killmer annually has awarded a scholarship to a student-athlete at Lockport Township High School.
After his daughter Michelle — a math teacher at the school — died of breast cancer at age 30 in 2007, her husband, Dennis Ivanich, began annually awarding a scholarship in her honor.
For the most part, the scholarships have been funded with donations and 50/50 raffles at football games. Now, Killmer’s friends want to help him perpetuate these memorial scholarships with a benefit Friday at Pelican Harry’s Sports Grill, 14807 Founders Crossing, Homer Glen. That’s where Killmer sometimes gets together with John Kooi and other retired guys on Wednesday afternoons in a loosely knit “hey-if-you’re-not-doing-anything-stop-by-for-a-drink” group.
On occasion, they have reached out to help others, Kooi said. But it wasn’t until he read a newspaper article about the Killmer scholarship that he realized all Killmer had been through and all he’s done for the Homer Stallions football program, of which his children were a big part.
Several years before Killmer lost his son, his wife Ann died, also of cancer. Kevin was 12 and Michelle was 11 at the time. Kevin loved football and Michelle was involved in cheerleading and poms.
Kevin played with the Stallions and then went on to play for Lockport Township High School. When his brain tumor prevented him from playing, he became the school team’s student manager and then would go to the Stallions’ field to help out. In his senior year, there were times when he would show up at the game in a wheelchair, still willing to help out, Killmer said.
It wasn’t until after Kevin died that the Stallions football complex was developed on 151st Street behind the Homer Township buildings in 2000. The field was dedicated to him in 2001.
Michelle began cheering with the Homer Stallions football program when she was 7 or 8 and later stayed on to coach the young girls. She also was a cheerleader at Joliet Junior College and the University of St. Francis.
When she became a math teacher at Lockport, she also coached the poms squad.
“I want to keep the scholarship program forever,” Killmer said one recent day as he pulled weeds from the football-shaped flower bed that surrounds the sign bearing Kevin’s name on the field.
Kooi said the guys “want to do what they can to help.”
The benefit will be from 4 to 10 p.m. A $30 donation includes two drinks and food. Money raised will be split between the two scholarship funds.
Tickets are available by contacting Killmer at (708) 301-1341.
Donations also can be made to the Kevin Killmer Memorial Scholarship or the Michelle Ivanich Memorial Scholarship, in care of Lockport Township High School, LTHS Foundation, 1323 E. Seventh St., Lockport, IL 60441-3899.
Homer Glen Mayor Jim Daley proclaimed Friday as Kevin Killmer and Michelle (Killmer) Ivanich Day.
The two $1,000 scholarships are awarded to Lockport graduates who participated in two or more sports for all four years of high school, maintained at least a C average, and demonstrated citizenship and leadership qualities.
“I’m glad people still remember Kevin and Michelle,” Dennis Ivanich said.
He had one fundraiser in 2008 and always wanted to do another.
“It’s a great way to keep her memory alive,” he said.