Though 20 years have passed, it is hard to forget what is remembered in Riverside as the Little League Tragedy. It was May 5, 1990, when the incident occurred at Harrington Park on the opening day of Little League season.
A group of 7 and 8 year olds were assembled to play a T-ball game, beaming as they wore their new uniforms, anticipating a day to play ball. Seemingly out of nowhere a car careened onto the field, striking many of those present and resulting in the deaths of three members of the Cubs T-ball team – Colin Anderson, Holly Rizzi and Ryan Womack.
Now 20 years later, some of the physical injuries may have healed, but the memories of that day live on with those who were present and affected by the accident.
The family of young Ryan Womack has chosen to make a “treasure out of a tragedy” to quote Mike Heine of the Womack Scholarship board.
The Womack family chose to honor their son through the establishment of the Womack Scholarship, which since 1991 has awarded more than $460,000 to help approximately 135 college students achieve their academic goals. The committee that oversees the fund comprises members of the Riverside Presbyterian Church.
Included in the group are Joey Tess and Joey Dvorak, who were best friends of Ryan Womack and have actively chosen to honor and remember their friend through their involvement with the scholarship’s board of directors.
Funds for the scholarships are generated through a number of events as well as donations. Annually a dinner dance is held at the Riverside Golf Club. This year’s date is set for Oct.23. Last year a new fundraiser was added at the Sweet Spot Tavern located in North Riverside. You may want to mark your calendars for this one. It is billed as a “pig roast and activities” at the Sweet Spot, 2531 Desplaines Ave., on Saturday, July 10.
Past recipients have been invited to the Riverside Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 16, when this year’s recipients will be recognized. For further information on the scholarship and fundraising events like the upcoming one at the Sweet Spot, go to the Web site at www.womackscholarship.com.