A memorial service in honor of Naperville teacher , who was stabbed to death in February in a downtown bar, won’t take place until fall at the earliest, his mother Jami Wild said earlier this week.
The Wild family had hoped to hold a memorial service at , where Shaun studied education, before the end of the school year, but Jami Wild said the family is still trying to cope with the great loss it has experienced.
“We are all just really struggling,” Jami Wild said during a telephone interview Wednesday. “My kids are just trying to get through the semester. All of Shaun’s friends are struggling to get through the semester.”
The family didn’t want to do anything that might create additional stress for Shaun’s loved ones already dealing with his death.
Though a local memorial is on hold, the family will be celebrating Shaun’s memory Saturday at an event near his hometown of Brown Deer, WI, Jami Wild said. Shaun’s brother Kevin, a student and baseball player at Valparaiso University, will be pitching a game against the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
Some of Shaun’s friends from North Central College are expected to attend the game, she said. And, she said the Wilds expect to have a large hometown turnout from the community, which has rallied around them, providing a lot of support.
“It will be a big day for our family,” Jami Wild said. “We are turning it into more of a community celebration and will keep Shaun alive in our hearts and keep the connection with our family, his friends and the community.”
Some of Shaun’s favorite music will be played before and after Saturday's game, and events are planned throughout the game to remember Shaun. Raffles also will be held and donations accepted toward the Shaun Wild Memorial Fund.
The tagline for the memorial fund is “Accentuate the Positive,” and so far, the response in Naperville and Wisconsin has been very positive. She said $10,000 has been raised with the memorial fund created through North Central College. About $5,000 was raised from selling “Team Wild” T-shirts with the catchphrase “Living Life on the Wild Side,” an idea that came from Shaun’s friend Manny Juarez. In Wisconsin, about $30,000 has been raised.
“In the beginning, money was coming in fast and furious and it was somewhat overwhelming,” she said. “We are trying to figure out how we will manage the funds that have come in already.”
The family has had little time to fully process Shaun’s death, let alone determine how the donations will be used to honor his memory, she said. Even so, the family plans to support a new scholarship through the education department at North Central College this spring that will help new teachers who are in need of funds to set up their classrooms. A $1,000 scholarship will also be given out to a student at Brown Deer High School, Shaun’s alma matter.
The Wild family also wants to work to build the connection with North Central College, but the ties to Naperville and Illinois are difficult, Jami Wild said.
The family is doing its best to move forward, but painful reminders abound, she said. Every time there is a court date they must attend, it is not only an emotional strain, but also a financial one, since Jami and her husband Bruce are self-employed and must take time away from work and family for court. She said they are dreading the legal proceedings, which she fears will only try to discredit Shaun.
As milestones come and go, it forces the family to work through its loss, she said. Last week, Bruce Wild celebrated his birthday and it was difficult knowing Shaun wasn’t going to be there.
“It is just really painful for us to accept the fact that we lost our son over such a silly, ridiculous incident,” Jami Wild said, adding the family has been told it may take years before goes to trial in the murder of her son. “That wound is going to be gaping until there is some resolution.”
The Wild family continues to work to transition through this difficult time and Jami Wild said she thinks there are lessons to be learned and hopes that God will give them the strength to figure out what his will is.
“In the interim, we ask for Naperville’s prayers and support for all of those impacted by this senseless tragedy,” Jami Wild said. “We are blessed with the love and support of Shaun's close friends, families and the North Central College family. We are looking forward to coming back to town this fall to reconnect and celebrate.”