Photo: On Nov. 17, Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez (right) presented Cole Rutter, 13, of Sugar Grove with the Roscoe Ebey Citizen of the Year Award. The event took place at the Sheriff’s Office in Geneva. Richard Ebey (left) was also in attendance. Photo by Keith Beebe
by Keith Beebe
KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Sheriff’s Office presented its Roscoe Ebey Award to three nominees each of the last two years. This year, however, Sheriff Pat Perez knew that one nominee truly stood out from the rest of the field.
That nominee was 13-year-old Cole Rutter of Sugar Grove.
“The last two years we’ve presented this award, the choices that I had were so difficult … that there were three winners in each year, because there were so many people doing so many good things,” Perez said. “This year, (Cole) stood out so much that there was only going to be one winner.”
Rutter was presented the 2011 Roscoe Ebey Award by Sheriff Perez and Richard Ebey, son of the late Roscoe Ebey, on Nov. 17 in a surprise ceremony at the Sheriff’s Office in St. Charles.
Rutter, a seventh-grade student at Kaneland Harter Middle School, suffers from the rare genetic disorder Neurofibromatosis. He and his family have helped raise close to $100,000 for The Children’s Tumor Foundation to fund research in hopes of finding a cure for NF—a disease in which tumors grow on tissue in the nervous system, causing symptoms that range from cognitive deficiency and problems with eyesight to bone deformity, nerve pain, and in some cases, hearing loss.
Neurofibromatosis is currently incurable.
“(Fundraising) has exposed him to a lot more kids and adults that have the disease, and it’s kind of making him aware of what’s going on,” said Cole’s father Dan, who spoke for his shy son during most of the awards ceremony. “We’re very proud of him. He does a lot; he goes door-to-door, (and) we have a lot of support from the community.”
Cole’s father said neither he nor Cole, prior to the award ceremony, had any idea why the Kane County Sheriff’s Office wanted to present Cole with the Roscoe Ebey Award.
“We had no idea. We went on the (web)site and saw what it was all about, but we had no reason to understand why (Cole would receive the award). I work at an elementary school, and the phone rang and said, ‘Sheriff’s Department’ on it,” he said. “I kind of freaked out, and they said (the call was) about Cole. (The administrative assistant) said it was a good thing and they wanted to speak to him and offer him this award. So it was kind of nerve wracking; I wasn’t going to pick (the phone) up, but we did.”
Pat Graceffa, a past recipient of the Roscoe Ebey Award, nominated Cole for this year’s award after following his story on his parents’ Facebook account.
“When I received the award (in 2010), I thought of all the people in Sugar Grove who did so much more than I did,” Graceffa said. “Families like the Rutters were the first ones I thought of who deserved the award more than me. It was wonderful to win the award, but it made you think about what everyone else in the community is doing and how hard they are working.”
The award was created four years ago by the Kane County Sheriff’s Department in honor of World War II veteran Roscoe Ebey, a resident of Aurora who was murdered in his home by a burglar in May 2007. Ebey’s assailant, Hector Mauricio, was arrested at the scene after a neighbor captured him and held him down until police arrived. Mauricio pleaded guilty in September 2010 to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 60 years in prison in June 2011.
Richard Ebey said that, from day one to the final court date for Mauricio, Sheriff Perez was there to answer his questions or simply just to talk to him. Ebey then personally nominated Perez for the 2011 Roscoe Ebey Award.
“My family and myself would like to nominate Sheriff Perez and his department for all the help and kindness he has shown me, my family, neighbors and friends over the last four years. I am sure there are many who will share this nomination with me,” Ebey said.
Ebey said his father Roscoe was just an everyday person who loved people and life.
“When this happened to you and your family, it happened to us,” Perez said to Ebey during the presentation. “We’re friends for life.”
Perez then said he hopes Cole understands how big of an award this is and how much he means to people.
“It’s a big award for a little guy, and we’re proud of you,” Ebey said to Cole. “My dad would be proud of you.”