Car auction helps raise money for family of officer who died of cancer

PALATINE, Ill. (WLS) -- A northwest suburban community rallied around the family of a Huntley police officer who just lost a long battle with cancer.

A rare one-of-a-kind Camaro that was originally supposed to benefit the Gliniewicz family has a new home. The money raised is going to the heartbroken family who just lost their police officer father.

"He was supposed to be here tonight, but he died sooner than we were expecting," Darcey Martino, the man's sister, said.

The pain is still raw for the Marak family. It's only been three weeks since Leonard "L.J." Marak passed away. On Thursday, his memory came alive in Palatine.

Almost 1,000 people showed up to support the family at a silent auction.

L.J.'s wife Kim, and three young boys, put on a brave face to celebrate their dad's life.

"He was an incredible family man, an incredible husband, an incredible father," Garth Martino, L.J.'s brother-in-law, said.

"He was a much loved man and he's very much missed," another family member said.

The benefit got a boost just last week. The car was originally purchased to benefit the family of Joe Gliniewicz. But when an investigation revealed the Fox Lake police lieutenant staged his own suicide, the auction was called off.

In a strange twist of fate, the man who originally purchased the car for the auction went to Palatine High School with L.J. He's sending the car's proceeds to the Marack family.

"For two and a half years, we prayed for a miracle and we didnt get the miracle we wanted but what we see here tonight, is an absolute miracle," Martino said.

So far, more than $86,000 have been raised. Every dollar raised is going toward the Marak family's mortgage, medical bills and the boys' education.
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