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First Annual “Walk On!” Event July 30 to Honor Late Park Manager, Chuck Papanos, and Support Lymphoma Research

The first annual “Walk On!” event in memory of Chuck Papanos, the Naperville Park District’s former Parks North/Riverwalk Manager, and benefitting the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) is set for July 30 at the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion.  Registration check-in begins at 6:00 p.m. with the walk stepping off at 7:00 p.m.  To donate or participate, go to and for more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  “Walk On!” is spearheaded by Ann Marie Papanos and a coalition of Naperville community members, friends and leaders.

Naperville Park District is remembering Chuck with a dedication ceremony at 12 noon on Friday, July 30, at the garden planted in his honor located just west of the Grand Pavilion. The dedication had been planned for 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. The community is welcome to attend the ceremony.

Prior to his passing last summer from T-cell lymphoma, Chuck Papanos managed Naperville’s Riverwalk and the many community parks on the city’s north side, including Centennial Beach and Nike Sports Complex. For nearly 20 years, colleagues say, he was the “quiet hero” behind the Riverwalk’s care as well as events like the Riverwalk Art Fair, the Sprint Triathlon, and the Healing Field of Honor at Rotary Hill.

“You name it, he was there at 5 a.m. making it happen,” said Jan Erickson, former Riverwalk Administrator. “That included managing the logistics for all the special events that happened on the Riverwalk, including the Last Fling.  He also was there to help with the day-to-day responsibilities of clearing snow, sandbagging for hours during floods at Centennial Beach and walking the 1.5-mile pathway to ensure it met his high standards.”

Before his death, Chuck and Ann Marie chose to support the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF), which has funded innovative research for 25 years. “They were a great resource for us as far as education,” Ann Marie said. “The LRF has also backed studies led by Chuck’s oncologist and hematologist, Dr. Gita Thanarajasingam, leading oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.”

In a video message to walk organizers, Dr. Thanarajasingam said, “I see many patients, and Chuck made a lasting impact on me. He worked himself into the hearts of my entire lymphoma care team here at Mayo…Honoring Chuck’s memory by funding research is a perfect tribute, because Chuck recognized the importance of research to find better treatments and cures for difficult lymphomas like his.”

Chuck had a saying: “Do nothing? Not an option!”  With this walk the community will have the chance to do something for Chuck and for anyone else touched by lymphoma.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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