Due to recent media coverage regarding the replacement of the marquee at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, I felt compelled to provide the facts regarding my investment.
Several months ago, I received a call from Randy Green’s secretary asking me to join them for a lunch meeting. At this meeting, they presented me with a rendering of a new marquee for the Rialto that included, as part of the sign, recognition of the donor’s family. They asked for a contribution of $350,000.
In the days following this initial meeting, I came to the conclusion that this was an excellent opportunity to give back to the Joliet area as well as honor my loving parents, Michael and Mary. I contacted Mr. Green and told him that if they could replace my name with my parents’ name on the sign, we could move forward with the investment.
At a later date, Mr. Green contacted me and told me that he was presenting the new marquee to the appropriate city officials prior to an anticipated public unveiling. Several months later, he called to tell me they would be unveiling the new marquee at their annual Festival of Trees event in November. Mr. Green invited my family and me to attend the event.
Since that time, there has been some controversy over the overall design of the marquee as well as the appearance of my parents’ names on the sign. Many people have assumed that myself or my family had participated in the design of the new marquee – this is simply not true. I have no control over the appearance of the marquee. The only stipulation that I had was that my parents’ names appear on the marquee as presented to me at my meeting with the Rialto board.
Over the past few weeks, I have become aware of numerous negative and unkind comments made by concerned citizens about both myself and my three sons. This public reaction was completely unexpected.
Over the past several years, I have made numerous charitable contributions to wonderful organizations throughout the Joliet area and beyond. Each of these investments have proven to be worthwhile and appreciated by those who received them. They include Joliet Junior College (scholarship fund in my wife’s name), Mayo Clinic (principal benefactor), Silver Cross Hospital (Carolyn J. Czerkies Pavilion at the cancer center), International Myeloma Foundation (annual Carolyn Czerkies Memorial Golf Outing), Will Grundy Medical Clinic, and MorningStar Mission.
Recently, I read in the St. Raymond’s Cathedral bulletin about a group of college students who would be spending their Christmas vacations in the Philippines building shelters for the homeless. They were in need of some additional funds to make this trip, and I happily contributed to this cause. For this donation, I received a beautiful thank-you letter from the director of this program, Natalie Bayci.
Many, many people make similar donations to organizations they hold dear to their hearts. Like myself, they simply want to know that their contribution is appreciated. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that the donation made to the Rialto Square Theatre and the city of Joliet will not be viewed in a positive way.
At this time, I would be very happy to receive my donation returned to me so I can seek out other charitable ways to honor my parents.
Once again, I would like to reiterate that I did not design the new marquee and have no control over its appearance or construction. The only stipulation I had is for my parents’ names to appear on the marquee as originally presented to me.
• Ed Czerkies is a Joliet-area businessman. He donated $350,000 to the Rialto Square Theatre for a new marquee.