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15 FASCINATING FACES OF THE YEAR December 2014


by Danielle Fitzpatrick Clark

Photos by Lynn Logan & Mike Mantucca Unless Otherwise Submitted

And the 15 Fascinating Faces of the Year Are.....

Congratulations to our 15 Fascinating Faces for the Year of 2014! Though we received many inspiring and heartening stories about fascinating west suburban

residents, we could only choose a few to feature in this year’s annual issue. Those who were chosen will uplift you during this holiday season, sharing their joys,

triumphs, and inspirational messages. Click here to meet them.

Jerome F. “JR” McBride Jr. – Glen Ellyn

September 3, 1967 – October 24, 2014

Dedicated husband, father and public servant, JR McBride was no ordinary man. Becky, his wife, and JR lived in Glen Ellyn for 20 years and have five children, Lauren, Abigail, Molly, Sara, and Marty.

JR was a man of many hats. He worked as an insurance broker at his family’s company, McBride Insurance Agency. He also represented county board district 4 for eight consecutive years, taking a personal responsibility for his community.

McBride was also involved in several organizations and raised thousands of dollars for area non-profit organizations, including Misericordia Heart of Mercy in Chicago. “JR inspired people through his willingness to get involved, taking personal responsibility for the public welfare, and also by taking social engagements and morphing them into fundraising opportunities,” says William, JR’s brother.

JR survived four invasive brain surgeries, with numerous tumors resected and removed, chemo, and radiation treatments, but through all this he still remained dedicated to his family, first and foremost, and his work for the community. A warrior in his own right, one of his favorite quotes was “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway” (John Wayne).

His favorite pastime involved bantering with his kids and he is described by his brother William as “one of the luckiest guys around when Becky said ‘yes’ to a date with him.”

“Becky knew him in his soul and they loved each other immeasurably, inspiring love in those around them,” William also shares.

He also loved to share experiences with everyone he could, always ready to make a new friend, and worked hard to maintain all those friendships. After all, in his own words, when he knew where his journey was heading, “It’s about quality, not quantity.”

JR lost his courageous battle before publication of this article, on October 24.

God Love Ya…Jerry “JR” McBride.

Dr. Terri Lightbody – Wheaton

A doctor of audiology and a private practice owner, Dr. Terri Lightbody believes in the importance of community service to help others. Her business, Hearing Specialists of DuPage in Naperville, keeps her busy, but she somehow finds the time to volunteer for the community. “I’ve been involved with the Wheaton Lions Club for 10 years, serving as president for two terms and also serving on the board and with various committees my entire tenure,” Dr. Terri says.

She’s lived in the Wheaton area for 24 years and she and her husband, Scott, have two children, Gabe and Lauren, both of whom attend Wheaton-Warrenville South High School.

Not only does she volunteer for the Wheaton Lions Club, but she also works with local government agencies to provide low-cost care to low-income families in the community. She’s part of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers for the Wheaton Park District, her church, and also with Tiger Paws at Wheaton-Warrenville South.

Because of her commitment and service to the Wheaton community, Dr. Terri was awarded the 2014 Star Award, during the Taste of Wheaton. “I was completely surprised and amazed to be recognized for working in the community and doing something which gives me great joy,” she confesses.

Dr. Terri loves being a part of the community and knows how special it really is. “I hope that people can see that even with a busy schedule, it’s good to give back and get involved,” she says.

Kristen Wade – Sugar Grove

Lieutenant/paramedic Kristen Wade has been with the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District (SGFPD) for eight and a half years. She is also a peer fitness trainer (PFT) and the fitness coordinator for the department.

Kristen and husband Al, who is also a lieutenant/paramedic for the St. Charles Fire Department, have been married for eight years and have lived in the Sugar Grove area since 2007.

When it comes to being a firefighter, Kristen’s favorite part is “coming to work and not knowing what the day is going to bring. When you’re faced with the unknown you have to be ready for anything.”

Kristen helped to organize the Sugar Grove Fire Fighters’ Local 4748 Fall Fire 5k for the third consecutive year. “FF Kevin Schramm pitched the idea to our Local in 2012 and asked me to organize it with my background and connections in the running community,” Kristen says. The second year they had 10 more runners and this year was pretty much status quo. “We’re hoping that next year we can really rally the community behind the run,” Kristen adds.

Not only is Kristen an important part of the SGFPD, but she and her husband are also avid triathletes and endurance athletes and are triathlon coaches. “I’ve run 20 marathons, some of which are ultras – anything over 26.2 miles--and I just completed my third Ironman Triathlon.

As for being a female firefighter, Kristen says as a woman in this field of work, “You are ALWAYS going to be a trailblazer until it’s 50/50.”

Dayell Houzenga – Carol Stream

Dayell Houzenga has been in the special recreation field for 11 years and is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist. She uses this extensive experience in the field to shape the position she has at the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) as outreach manager. “The goal of outreach is to connect with families whose needs are currently underserved, such as those with Aspergers and populations that are more difficult to serve, such as the early childhood and Hispanic communities,” Dayell explains.

Her day-to-day activities include speaking with new families interested in WDSRA programs, explaining the registration process and helping them fill out the forms they need to get started, learning more about each person’s particular abilities in order to have the appropriate staff available for their participation in programs, and helping those who sign up find programs that will fit their interest and ability levels.

Besides the day-to-day activities, you can also find Dayell out and about, speaking to groups and organizations. “The goal of speaking to parent groups, schools, disability organizations, etc., is to educate people about WDSRA services and also to find out what families are looking for from WDSRA,” she shares.

With Dayell’s experience she’s been able to see what happens when, for whatever reason, someone has an unsuccessful experience with a recreational outlet. She uses this knowledge to create an environment at WDSRA where everyone has a successful experience. “I’ve been lucky enough to see how finding the right programs and groups can change lives!” she enthuses.

Danielle Tufano - Aurora

You may have heard this lady on the radio a time or two. Danielle Tufano co-hosts the “Mackay in the Morning” show with Scott Mackay on 95.9 the River (WERV-FM). “I’ve known Scott for nearly nine years so when we were paired on the air together earlier in the year, listeners were immediately able to hear our friendship come across on the air,” she shares. Danielle recently took over as the River’s program director and is in charge of everything that goes over the air, including music, on-air execution of station promotions, and all of the on-air personalities.

Danielle, currently living in Aurora, commits a significant amount of time to volunteering in the area. She teamed up with Matt Chicola from Loaves & Fishes Community Services, and they are leading the Young Community Action Network (YCAN), a group of young professionals coming together to have fun while also doing good things in the community. “We have a wonderful committee and started some exciting things in the works, including group volunteer events, a Food Truck Fest, and an 80s Party!” she enthuses.

Danielle also sits on the board of directors for the Naperville Jaycees, and volunteers much of her free time with them. “Joining the Naperville Jaycees is one of the best decisions I’ve made because I’m having a blast while making a positive impact on the community,” she says. Looking back on 2014, Danielle is “completely overwhelmed with some of the great things I’ve been lucky enough to experience.”

Collin Kozola – Naperville

Recent Waubonsie High School graduate (May 2014) Collin Kozola is an amazing artist/songwriter and is now on tour with Teen Nation. Teen Nation comprises a group of talented young artists who perform in schools across America showcasing an anti-bullying message. These young artists promote a “Stand and Defend” campaign to young adults, instilling purpose and confidence.

Collin, when not on tour, lives in Naperville with parents Steve and Linda and has three siblings, Jessica, Steven, and Karissa.

Collin spends much of his weekends in concert with today’s very best artists, all with Teen Nation. He recently released his first single, “Forever with You,” debuting on Australian radio stations across Sydney and Melbourne. “Forever with You” hit the Top 3 for the month of June.

Collin has even started to draw in a substantial fan base all throughout America. “A couple of years ago I started posting videos of myself singing on YouTube, and I started to get fans,” Collin shares. “I always wanted to have a name for my fans and then one day I got a comment from a fan saying ‘I love you so much, I’m now a Kozolie,’ and since then the name has stuck.”

Collin’s goals for the future are to one day have his own concert tour, and to be playing his own music. His parents are also his biggest fans. “We are extremely proud of him,” they say. “He loves and respects all his fans and we know one day people will say he came from Naperville, Illinois!”

Mike DeMeritt – Glen Ellyn

Mike DeMeritt first became involved with DuPage PADS, an interim housing program, back in 2008. He started out as a volunteer working on the program’s Run 4 Home 5k and 10k run/walk event, but ended up contributing so much more.

Mike has spent all 53 years of his life in the western suburbs! He is a regional sales consultant and registered financial representative for Invesco PowerShares.

Powershares became involved as a Run 4 Home sponsor and selected Mike to represent the company on the race committee. He met Mary Schulte, race director, who inspired Mike to become more involved with PADS.

“As my belief in the mission of ending homelessness grew, I was inspired to commit to my own fundraising event,” Mike shares. His first idea was to sleep in a tent in his backyard for 100 days through winter and ask 100 sponsors for a dollar per night each, totaling $10,000. “As it turns out, my family and neighbors were not too comfortable with my scheme,” he says. Instead he used the same idea and substituted 100 miles of trail running for 100 nights in a tent.

He has done the trail-running fundraising event for the past four years, but in 2014, because of a knee injury, he lifted 100 tons in eight hours to raise $10,000, but this time $1 per ton per sponsor. “The lifts were accomplished through Olympic-style dead lifts, front squats, clean-and-jerks, back squats, and also pull-ups,” he states. He exceeded his goal of $10,000 and raised $11,366.

Louise Coffman – Sugar Grove

Louise Coffman and husband Jerry have lived in Sugar Grove for the past 15 years. For the past seven years, she’s been a volunteer for Sugar Grove’s Corn Boil.

This year she took on the role of president of the Corn Boil. “The best part of my new position is that I’ll be getting the message out about what Corn Boil really DOES,” she shares. “We are completely volunteer-run and after we’ve paid our bills and set aside funds for next year, we give our profits back to the community!” The past two years, the Corn Boil has been able to donate nearly $30,000 to various organizations in and around Sugar Grove.

Besides her involvement with the Corn Boil, she’s also part of the Sugar Grove Library Board as an unpaid trustee. In addition to her role as board treasurer, she’s taken on responsibility for the library grounds. She’s raised money and awareness for causes like breast cancer and domestic violence prevention and is involved with another fundraiser for past library director Beverly Hughes, who’s fighting brain cancer.

Her inspiration for generously donating her time came during a very hard time in her life. “Five years ago and all within a few months’ time my friend lost her daughter to domestic violence, I lost my oldest friend to breast cancer, and a dear relative to suicide,” she reflects. “Those events made me realize all that I have in my life and I decided to dedicate my time and energy to helping others.”

Kori Boe – Naperville

Junior Kori Boe doesn’t just love being a cheerleader, she’s passionate about every aspect of it! She’s part of Indiana University’s cheerleading program and has had the honor of cheering for Indiana University’s football team, women’s volleyball team, and both men and women’s basketball teams.

Kori grew up in Naperville with mom Kathy, dad Kim, and brother Mitchell – who is committed to play baseball at the collegiate level at University of Iowa. She also has three adorable pets--dogs Gunnar and Susie and kitty Guinness.

Alongside cheering for other university teams, Kori has been able to compete with a cheer team that has won three consecutive national championships. “My cheerleading career has been an unbelievable experience,” Kori enthuses. “It’s an absolute honor to be part of Indiana University’s cheerleading program.”

While competing at a collegiate national championship is an unsurpassed feeling, it’s not her favorite part. “My team is my favorite part of IU cheerleading,” she says. “Not only have I made lifelong friendships, but I get to work with amazing women who all share a common goal.”

The IU cheerleading team will be competing to defend their title this January and Kori knows that everyone will be “working hard every practice for the competition, just as they work hard to do their very best on the sidelines, cheering on the other IU teams.” In addition to her cheering career at IU, Kori is majoring in both sports communication and broadcasting, hoping to one day work for the Big Ten.

Linda Radtke – St. Charles

Linda Radtke is a self-described housewife and gym-rat, and is “always chasing weeds or dust.” She’s fascinating for so many reasons, one of which is her dedication to the Geneva Garden Club.

Linda and husband Donald have two kids, Heather and Tim. Before settling down in St. Charles in 1992, the couple moved around and lived in 15 different houses in six different states.

The Geneva Garden Club has been around for 75+ years, 20 of which Linda has been a member. In order to recognize outstanding women in the club, Linda came up with an award to honor a member each and every year. This is known as the Geneva Garden Club Gratitude Award. Along with the recognition, the recipient of this award also chooses a book to be donated by the club to the Geneva Library. “We have some amazing ladies in our club and I thought this would be a nice way to honor them and also ramp up the horticultural section of the library,” Linda adds.

Luckily, this good deed came back around, and Linda was honored with the annual Geneva Garden Club Gratitude Award this year!

Linda is also a walking, breathing, and living miracle! The survivor of three different cancers, two of which were diagnosed at the same time, she inspires many with her strength and perseverance. “These cancers are so deadly, but I survived and I’ve been a survivor since 2000,” Linda shares. “I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring…but today…I’m good!”

Andrew Van Gorp – Glen Ellyn

Andrew Van Gorp was born between the east and west branches of the DuPage River at the heart of the county, in Glen Ellyn. “I’m very thankful to have been raised here,” he adds. Andrew is all about helping the environment and works for Casella Resource Solutions, a company specializing in recycling and environmental services.

As a sustainable community development major at Northland College, Andrew was encouraged to go back to his hometown, where he could be most effective with his endeavors. This resonated with him and he decided to apply as a volunteer and was appointed as environmental commissioner in Glen Ellyn.

Not only does he volunteer for the community, but he’s always juggling a few projects, one in particular that holds a special place in his heart. Andrew created a video about DuPage rivers. “The goal with the project was not only to create an inspirational video about the health of DuPage waterways, but to connect families to their local waterways,” he explains. To do this, nine families volunteered to have their portraits taken standing in the waters of DuPage closest to their homes. “It was a spiritual experience,” he shares.

Andrew also makes his own sustainable homemade gifts and T-shirts. One of his most recent projects is a basket he’s woven out of invasive species. “It’s a creative way to expand the use of these invasive species, thus reducing their numbers, giving our native plants a chance to bloom, grow, and not go extinct.”

Truc-Dao Pham “Dao” – Oswego

As if high school isn’t enough of a change, imagine starting high school in a different country, where the language spoken isn’t one you completely understand. That is the journey Truc-Dao Pham undertook this year when she and her mother moved from Vietnam to Illinois in an effort to be reunited with Dao’s grandparents.

“I cried the first week of school because I had no friends and did not understand anything that people around me were trying to tell me,” Dao explains. “I felt homesick and alone and did not want to go to school after the first week, but my aunt encouraged me to not give up on learning.”

Dao, 15 and a freshman at Oswego East High School, kept moving forward and a week later met another Vietnamese student, a sophomore at Oswego East and they became fast friends, making the transition much easier.

Culturally, the United States is much different compared to Vietnam, especially in terms of what is expected at school. “U.S. students can color their hair, and dress however they want,” Dao shares. “In Vietnam we are not allowed to come to school that way.”

As for subjects at school, Dao loves math because “it requires very little English!” While she’s still struggling with the English language, she hopes to be able to speak and understand English much better by next year.

Dao is also looking forward to making new friends and learning more about Homecoming at her school and participating in fun Homecoming activities her sophomore year.

Trisha Prabhu – Naperville

Fourteen-year-old Trisha Prabhu is a freshman at Neuqua Valley High School. She’s lived in Naperville for 13 years with parents Bhanu and Neel Prabhu.

Prabhu recently participated in Google Science Fair 2014, where teens ages 13-18 work on projects that have the potential to change the world. Prabhu was selected as one of the top 15 global finalists this year for her product, Rethink, an effective way to stop cyberbullying.

Prabhu came up with the idea for Rethink back in 2013 after reading the story of a Florida girl who had committed suicide due to repeated cyberbullying. “This story had a profound impact on me,” she shares. “I was heartbroken to realize that a girl younger than me had been pushed to suicide and I knew I had to do something.”

She decided to study the topic and used the Naperville Public Library as a big resource. Prabhu credits the friendly staff, administrators, and patrons in helping her with her project.

To develop Rethink, Prabhu studied the science behind cyberbullying and was fascinated by the inner workings of the brain. While she didn’t win the grand prize, “I sure won the hearts of all the judges and the audience, receiving a special mention during the award ceremony,” she says.

Prabhu has big plans for Rethink and is working towards rolling it out to the community. Her school is adopting Rethink as a slogan to stop cyberbullying and is joining forces with professors to bring more awareness to the cyberbullying issues.

Dan Dolan-Laughlin – Wheaton

What was supposed to be a few days of life turned into a second chance for Dan Dolan-Laughlin. “Through the miracle of organ donation, transplantation, and the Gift of Hope Program, I was gifted a pair of healthy lungs and life,” Dan shares of his experience. “I was prepared to die and just as quickly and miraculously, I became prepared to live.”

Dan and his wife, Susan, have lived in Wheaton since the mid-80s. The couple has two daughters and two sons, and have five grandchildren in total.

In efforts to give back, after his double lung transplant, Dan began working with the American Lung Association in Chicago. Dan also became acutely aware of his new lungs’ sensitivity to air quality and because of this became involved in the ALA’s Healthy Air campaign. “Dan quickly became one of our most important volunteers and his story is prominently featured on our website,” according to Mike Kolleng, manager of the Healthy Air campaign.

In 2013, Dan was invited to the White House to be recognized by their Champions of Change Initiative. Dan received the Champions of Change Award for his work in the field of environmental and public health, and he was the only recipient of the award in this category who was not a scientist or medical professional.

Dan has remained humble throughout it all. “I do feel that I am inspired by most people I meet,” Dan shares. “Everyone has something to give, and those who do inspire me greatly.”

Dr. Joshua Lederman – Oswego

Living in the Oswegoland region for most of his life, Dr. Joshua Lederman not only works in Oswego but volunteers in the area as well. He’s a chiropractic physician at Carson Chiropractic and works with the Oswego Rotary Club, spearheading their annual “Coats for Kendall” winter clothing drive.

“We gather coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and mittens from members of the community,” he says. “Once collected, the Rotary Club of Oswego distributes the winter outerwear to the Kendall County Food Pantry, Hesed House, the Wayside Cross, Mutual Ground, Salvation Army, and any other agencies that are in need.”

It’s an easy process for community members to donate to “Coats for Kendall.” There are collection boxes found at every school within the Oswego Community Unit School District 308, and other public collection sites include Keith’s Car Care, Oswego Park District, Carson Chiropractic, AutoSmart, and the Oswego Village Hall. “Typically there are about 3,000 coats collected, but we’ll take as many coats as we can gather,” Dr. Lederman explains.

Dr. Lederman is also involved in the Oswegoland Optimist Club, who aim to aid families and youth in the community through fundraising events. He also volunteers as a chiropractic physician at CommunityHealth in West Town Chicago. “My grandfather, Sam Lederman, who was an important financial contributor to the development of CommunityHealth, got me involved with them,” he says.

When he has free time, he spends it with his wife, Ashley, and enjoys staying active and watching football -“I’m a dedicated Chicago Bears fan!”

BONUS FEATURE! 

Christina Schutz – Darien

You won’t find a 28-year-old who’s more fun to hang out with than Christina Schutz! Not only does she love to shop and go bowling, but Schutz is a standout athlete, playing volleyball for the Illinois team in the Special Olympics this year.

Schutz has lived in Darien for the past 23 years and is a 2007 graduate of Downers Grove South High School. Her parents, Carol and Mike, and brother, Brian, have been cheering her on for years as she’s participated in volleyball. Christina has been playing volleyball with Seaspar, a special recreation association by the Illinois Association of Park Districts, in Downers Grove for the past 11 years.

She was beyond surprised and excited to be chosen to participate in this year’s Olympics. The training was tough, but she would give anything to go back and compete again. “Training can be very tiring,” Christina explains. “We get to do a lot of different drills with the trainer in order to be ready for competition.”

The training and long hours absolutely paid off. Illinois’ volleyball team took first place this year in the competition! “It felt great to take home the gold,” Christina enthuses. “When I arrived home and got off the plane there were so many people waiting and cheering and congratulating us!”

For inspiration, Schutz definitely gives credit to her number-one fan: “The person who inspires me most is my mom. She’s very helpful when I need her and always has great advice to share.”


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