The Beverly couple will host their annual St. Patrick's Day Party from 7 p.m.-midnight Friday in the gymnasium at St. Barnabas School. The fundraiser at 10121 S. Longwood Drive is expected to draw some 400 people.
"It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. The cause is good," Tom McNamara said Tuesday.
He and his wife are one of four charities that have united under the banner of South Siders Fighting Childhood Cancer. The group that also includes Live Like John, Emily Beazley's Kures for Kids and the Maeve McNicholas Memorial Foundation will serve as grand marshals of the annual parade.
McNamara hopes the increased exposure from the parade will draw even larger crowds to the fundraiser that benefits both the organization named for his late son as well as the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
This California-based charity raised $36.9 million for childhood cancer research last year. Most donations arrive in the form of pledges for individuals willing to shaving their heads for the cause.
Indeed, barbers will be at St. Barnabas from 7-9 p.m. Friday. A $20 donation is required of all shavees as is pre-registration on the St. Baldrick's website.
The event will also include live music, raffles, a cash bar and food for sale. It costs $20 to attend the 21-and-older fundraiser that last year raised $64,000, McNamara said.
The bulk of the donations are funneled directly to St. Baldrick's. But about a third of the money goes toward the tax-exempt, nonprofit organization started by Pat Mac's Pack last year. Those funds as well as donations from the group's annual summer bike ride are split two ways.
First, Pat Mac's Pack funds pediatric brain tumor research at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. But the charity also works with the Streeterville hospital's Brain Tumor Patient Emergency Fund.
This targeted fund provides financial support to parents struggling to pay for everything from parking at the hospital to meals and utility bills as they navigate the treacherous road of having a child with a brain tumor.
All of this is an effort to keep the memory of Patrick Thomas McNamara alive. The gregarious 13-year-old boy died Oct. 14, 2011 after an 11-year battle with a brain tumor. His spirit lives on through the charity that uses a logo of a green top hat placed above a pair of shamrock sunglasses and a matching green bow tie.
Patrick wore this same outfit upon his return to St. Barnabas School in early March 2011. He had just finished after another stint in the hospital and was embraced by fellow students.
"He later told the teachers that it was the best day of his life," said Dee McNamara, Pat's mother.
Meanwhile, the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade begins at noon Sunday. The annual march down Western Avenue begins at 103rd Street and ends at 115th Street.
"It's exciting to be chosen as one of the grand marshals of the parade," Tom McNamara said.
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