MOUNT GREENWOOD — Brendan Patrick Burke frequently placed inspirational messages on his Facebook page. One of his final posts read, "Life is Good" and included a smiling emoji wearing sunglasses.
This has since become the motto for a fundraiser honoring the late Burke, who was 21 when he was involved in a fatal car crash March 3, 2016. Bags for Burke will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday at 115 Bourbon St. in Merrionette Park.
Advance tickets for the fundraiser at 3359 W. 115th St. cost $30. Tickets at the door cost $35. The event will also include raffle prizes, bean bag games, food and drinks.
"He was a good kid. Did I have to worry about him? Yes," Teresa Burke said.
She added that her son was a bit of a troublemaker in grade school. Specifically, she remembered a time when he got caught cutting the line during an eighth-grade field trip to Six Flags Great America.
After getting pinched, Brendan Burke refused to give up any of his buddies from Queen of Martyrs, including his friend, John Leonard, who would later speak at his funeral.
A quiet kid, Brendan Burke seemed to mellow in high school. He had many friends and went on to study psychology at St. Xavier. He wasn't quite sure what he wanted pursue for a career and worked at several places to try things out
"He always liked new people, and he liked to change up his jobs," Teresa Burke said, adding that her son's resume included stints at Jewel-Osco, Mariano's, Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant, the Oak Lawn Park District and Smith Village.
Burke lived with his parents in southwest suburban Oak Lawn. He was in north suburban Hoffman Estates when he was fatally injured in a crash. He is survived by his parents as well as his sister, Katie Fugaj, 30, of St. John, Ind.
"Brendan had a positive impact on everyone he worked with," said Fugaj, recalling his co-workers from Cooper's Hawk in Oak Lawn lining the streets with signs remembering their friend as his funeral procession passed by.
Brendan was also the godfather to Fugaj's two daugthers, Hailey, 2, and Mackenzie, 1. Fugaj is undergoing her second round of chemotherapy for breast cancer and said she and her brother were very close.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will establish a senior-year scholarship at St. Xavier. Some money will also be given to the hockey team at Mount Carmel, where Brendan Burke played as an underclassman.
A scholarship for an eighth-grade student at Queen of Martyrs headed into high school also will be created, along with a fund to help an aspiring youth hockey player pay for equipment and ice time with the St. Jude Knights, for whom Brendan Burke played as as a youth.
The Burke family said they initially envisioned a large bean bag tournament when launching the fundraiser. They saw this as an alternative to golf outings and softball tournaments common on the South Side.
Bean bags will be set up at the fundraiser, but the large tournament will be postponed until next year. It is expected to be played at Queen of Martyrs, Teresa Burke said.
She recalled the many late nights when her son would get calls to pick up his friends. And she remembered him helping tutor others who were struggling in school.
"He was the kind of person who would do anything for you," she said.