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Shorty Eichelberger has spent many of her 92 years supporting and cheering those around her.

On Friday, it’s payback time.

On what the City of Champaign has declared “Lila Jeanne (Shorty) Eichelberger Day” — there’s a framed proclamation to prove it — she’ll be on the receiving end of a drive-by parade of countless well-wishers. The moving show of appreciation starts at 4:30 p.m. and everyone’s invited (email Gale Bickel of the University of Illinois Alumni Association at with questions).

Recovering from a hip injury — and without Illini sporting events to attend — Shorty hasn’t been out much lately. So they’re bringing the party to her.

“I can’t wait to get athletics back in operation,” she said. “I’m getting stronger every day.”

Shorty is decorating her house on Meadowbrook Drive — orange and blue, of course — ahead of Friday’s shindig, which plays out on a day that hits home for someone so patriotic: Sept. 11.

“What more can you say about her: She’s always doing something for someone,” next-door neighbor Dick Arnould said. “It’s a way to say hi and thank her for all the wonderful things she’s done for our community.”

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