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Play For Maeve Enters 10th Year at Beverly Park

 Play for Maeve, a popular fundraiser, is preparing for its 10th and final year under the current format. The sprawling event is set to take over Beverly Park from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 2.
Play For Maeve Prepares For It's 10th Year
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BEVERLY —  A popular, late-summer fundraiser is preparing for its 10th and final year under the current format.

Play for Maeve will be held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 2 at Beverly Park. The event draws about 2,000 people annually and supports the Maeve McNicholas Memorial Foundation.

The sprawling event takes over the 13.2-acre park at 2460 W. 102nd St. in West Beverly. Family-friendly attractions include inflatable fun houses, train rides, magic shows, face painting, carnival games and raffles.

Participants enjoy full access to all entertainment as well as food, pop and T-shirts in return for a $50 per family donation. Tickets are available at the event.

"We kind of decided that this would be the last year that it would be this big," Denise McNicholas said.

Howard Ludwig says Maeve's short life has led to a lot of positive for the community:

Denise and Matt McNicholas founded the charity named for their 2-year-old daughter. Maeve McNicholas died on July 29, 2004, just 36 hours after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Play for Maeve raised $114,000 in its inaugural year to fund a renovation of Beverly Park with matching funds from the Chicago Park District.

Subsequent events helped to raise money to support research of pediatric brain tumors. Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Streeterville has already received $600,000 from Play for Maeve and will again benefit in 2014.

Through the years, Play for Maeve has also lent its support to the Ronald McDonald House in Oak Lawn and other neighborhood families who have suffered similar tragedies, Matt McNicholas said.

The annual fundraiser continues to draw large crowds thanks to the unwavering support from residents of the Beverly, Mount Greenwood and Morgan Park neighborhoods, Denise McNicholas said.

However after years of organizing Play for Maeve, board members began considering a 10-year timetable for the event. With a decade of fundraising in the books, organizers are looking to scale back the elaborate event into something a bit more simple.

Going forward, Play for Maeve will likely downsize the number of raffles as well as some of the entertainment. Future versions of the event might look more like a "day in the park" versus the blockbuster event many families have come to know, Denise McNicholas said.

"We are hoping to do something, but maybe not to the same extent," she said.

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