I have known Glen Rylko for several years. We became friends over our interest in old time wrestling, comic cons and other fun stuff. Many times, Johngy's Beat has featured Glen with his many celebrity encounters.
Taking nothing away from meeting celebrities, today I am featuring Glen doing something far more important. Glen has done a lot of volunteer work with Alicia's House, a food pantry named to honor Alicia, a young girl who passed away in 2001.
Grandma Stella and Poppy Juan started the non-for profit food pantry. Alicia's House continues to feed hungry families. In another homage to Alicia, a little treat is put in each food bag, just as Alicia had done years ago while working next to her grandmother at the church pantry.
Glen and his wife Alicia have volunteered at Alicia's House for more than 15 years, having been touched by Alicia's tragic story and inspired by the dedication of the volunteers all year.
On why it is so special to Glen and Alicia, Glen stated, "Seeing the pantry first hand and the people they serve made me aware of those who have things way worse than me and my family. They are lacking in basic day-to-day needs and otherwise would not have anything for Christmas." This is a great thought especially at this time of year.
Glen and Alicia are deeply involved. Glen explained, "My wife, Alicia Rylko, and I, volunteer for all of their fundraisers, food distributions, and parties and giveaways. In 2017 we helped prepare and distribute over 1200 Holiday baskets. Christmas gifts, stockings, coats, hats, gloves and scarves to over 1900 children were given away. An annual party for special needs children and their family was held for over 275 in attendance for which I am the emcee for the event. I am also the emcee in the evening dinner for the Alicia's House Golf Outing, Dinner, and Auctions which is our biggest fundraiser of the year. I also did the ring announcing for a couple of pro-wrestling fundraiser events."
Naturally Glen did ring announcing for their wrestling events. Fondly recalling the days of Dick the Bruiser and other greats, Glen has a fine appreciation for wrestling.
Ironically, it was wrestling that first brought Glen to Alicia's House. Glen told me, "I heard about them first from a good friend Dan Roeglin from Minnesota. Another fan George Gunderson (RIP) further made me aware of them. I met Juan and Stella shortly thereafter at a Cauliflower Alley Reunion all the way in Las Vegas in 2004,and we are only 20 miles away from each other."
Just like wrestling connected Glen to Alicia's House, it connected me to Glen. I am very grateful for that connection. If a cause is important to Glen, I will always support him.
It is important to remember those less fortunate than us, especially during the holiday season. I know Glen and Alicia will be giving their time and energy to Alicia's House as they always do. I hope this has inspired at least a few others to check out thie great cause and honor precious, little Alicia. Give or volunteer if you can. You might just see Glen and Alicia Rylko there. Tell them Johngy sent you.
Check out AliciasHouse.org for more info on this great organization. You can also get news and updates on the Alicia's House Facebook page.
Glen Rylko and me in Chicago, IL-March 2016.