(CBS) — Seventy-five children are spending the night in Cole Park in the South Side Chatham neighborhood, in an event organized to honor a slain Chicago police officer.
The children range in age from 11 to 17
Carolyn Wortham, the mother of Officer Thomas Wortham IV, said by Saturday morning the young people will have played volleyball, shot baskets, climbed aboard a fire engine, ridden horses, feasted on burgers, hot dogs and pizza, made s’mores, watched a movie around a campfire and, of course, camped out in a tent.
Camping out overnight “is something every child should have a chance to experience,” she tells WBBM Newsradio.
Conspicuous among the volunteers are Chicago police officers, both from the 6th District and from other units in which Wortham served, as well as members of the murdered officer’s Wisconsin National Guard unit.
In March 2010, Wortham had recently returned from combat duty in Iraq when he was fatally shot in the driveway of his parents’ home by thieves who sought to steal his new motorcycle. The gunmen were in turn wounded by Wortham’s father, a retired Chicago police sergeant.
Across the street, Cole Park saw little use, and basketball nets had been taken down to reduce loitering by gang-bangers. Now the one-block-square park has new hoops and a walking track; hosts South Side Little League games and has a new playground dedicated in the officer’s memory.
The sleepover activities were to conclude around 8 a.m. Saturday.