MOUNT GREENWOOD — Five-year-old Nicholas Mayoski proudly rides an antique bike around his neighborhood.
The bicycle is a gift from his dad, Jason “Mayo” Mayoski. The Chicago firefighter collected classic Schwinn bikes for his three children, and the two-wheelers now hang in the garage as a part of his legacy.
Jason Mayoski, 37, died on Aug. 24, 2012. A sudden heart attack claimed his life the night before he was headed to the firehouse. His widow, Chicago Police Officer Jennifer Chapin Mayoski, was left to raise their children alone — Nicholas, 5, Jason, 3, and Brooke, 2.
A benefit for the family is set for 2-7 p.m. Saturday at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St. in southwest suburban Merrionette Park.
“All 4 Mayo” is the first fundraiser held for the grieving family, and the money raised will be used for basic necessities as well as the children’s future education expenses, said Mary Bochenczak, the firefighter's sister-in-law.
“He passed away in his sleep at home, so he doesn’t get the benefits that you would get if he passed in the line of duty,” Bochenczak said.
More than 1,000 people are expected at “All 4 Mayo.” It’s one of the rare occasions when Chicago police and firefighters gather together — aside from rivalry softball tournaments or boxing matches, Bochenczak said.
Jason Mayoski is well-suited to bring the two groups together. He had just earned the rank of relief engineer before his death. He drove the fire truck as part of his promotion, filling in as needed at firehouses throughout the city, Bochenczak said.
“He always had a smile on his face. He was very friendly. He would give you the shirt off his back,” Bochenczak said.
Mayoski graduated from De La Salle Institute in Bronzeville, and his wife grew up in Bridgeport. The pair moved to Mount Greenwood seven years ago and were often spotted at events at 115 Bourbon Street, his widow said.
“We went to every benefit. It’s so strange to be on the other side of it,” she said.
Despite the circumstances, Jennifer Mayoski expects “All 4 Mayo” to have a lively feel. She described her late husband as “the life of the party.” He’d want to see everyone celebrating his life rather than mourning his loss, she said.
As for Nicholas, he’s been riding a bike without training wheels since his third birthday. While other kids in the neighborhood pedal bikes adorned with Spider-Man or trick handlebars, Nick’s content with the old Schwinn his dad gave him.
“He reminds me of Pee-Wee Herman when he rides that bike,” his mom said.