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HERO MOM Gretchen Parejko, Aurora

by Kristen Kucharski

Andrew James Foundation - There are no words to express the sadness a mother feels after losing her baby at 33½-week gestation, as Gretchen Parejko can attest. The Neuqua Valley High School teacher and track & field coach, as well as mother of two, has an active involvement in the Fox Valley Swim Team and knows all too well the importance of education and community; so she co-founded the Andrew James Foundation ( in 2006, to serve the Fox Valley communities of Illinois through educational and family charitable assistance, as a means of moving forward with life as she now knew it. Directed by a seven-member board from the local Fox Valley community, the Andrew James Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization which hosts a number of fund-raising events each year to support scholarship opportunities for an area student who has been a member of a swim team at one point in their life, another to any local athlete, and one to a nurse who is going on to continue his or her education. – Kristen Kucharski

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