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MUNSTER — A young autistic boy who died this past spring is being honored later this month during the Orthopaedic Specialists of Northwest Indiana's fourth annual 5K Run/Walk, according to the boy's family. 

Twelve-year-old Chance Jurgens, of Munster, died after a playground incident May 23 at Sunnyside Park, steps away from the family’s home.

Funds raised during the event will go to the Munster Police Department, which is seeking donations to buy a "dual-purpose" comfort K-9 trained to provide comfort to children with special needs and victims of crime, said Chance's mother, Dawn Twardak-Jurgens. The dog will also help police detect drugs. 

"Chance always wanted a big dog," Twardak-Jurgens said. 

Twardak-Jurgens said her family is asking the Munster Police Department to name the dog after Chance, and police are looking into whether that is possible.

The total cost is estimated at $24,000, and the dog would be specially trained to work with children like Chance, an incredibly brilliant kid with Asperger syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to his family. 

While there is no fee for the 5K race or event, organizers are asking for monetary and Lego donations. The event will feature a Nerf gun war in Chance's honor. Chance loved Nerf guns, Legos, hot rods, cars, the color pink and books. 

"Chance overcame so many obstacles that come with having autism and always wanted to help everyone. As such, in honor of Chance, we want to carry on his quest to help others," organizers said on the event website.

Lego sets will be collected at the event and donated to nonprofits for underprivileged autistic children. 

Twardak-Jurgens thanked the lead organizer, Megan Mellis, who contacted the family through social media offering ways to help after reading news stories about Chance's passing. 

"This young lady is such an angel," she said. 

Participants can purchase T-shirts but they must be ordered in advance. 

The event is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 25, with registration online ahead of the event and day-of on-site registration. 

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Northlake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.