Photo: KHS senior Mike Karakourtis poses with his grandmother, Orla, and grandfather, Mike, after winning the Mr. Kaneland 2013 competition. His faux boy band, Alex Carillo, Dalvell Triplett, Karakourtis, Chad Swieca and Diego Ochoa, helped make it happen. Courtesy Photos
by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Who knew tuxedos, pink fannie packs and stonewashed jeans could play a part in such an important cause?
Kaneland High School senior Mike Karakourtis entered the 2013 Mr. Kaneland event with the intention of raising money for Delnor’s Center for Breast Health. He proceeded to do just that, raising nearly $1,500 for the center and earning the right to be called “Mr. Kaneland,” thanks to a sprawling dance routine that featured Karakourtis and his friends in some eye-catching boy band outfits.
For Karakourtis, the cause behind the Mr. Kaneland event, which was held on Feb. 15 in the KHS auditorium, is a personal one.
“My nannie survived breast cancer in 2002,” he said. “She’s such an important person in my life, and is one of the sweetest people I know. I feel very fortunate to still have her in my life, as many people lose loved ones to this terrible disease.”
Karakourtis, a North Aurora resident, said he wanted to do the Mr. Kaneland fundraiser and raise as much money as he could as a tribute to his nannie and the fight that she had won against breast cancer.
“My nannie is like an angel in my life, and one of the sweetest people I know,” he said. “I am so lucky she survived, as many women do not.”
Karakourtis’ fundraising consisted of selling $5 bracelets and receiving donations. He was also auctioned off for over $300 during the Mr. Kaneland event.
“One of my favorite parts of the night, aside from knowing my nannie was watching in the audience, was being told our principal, Chip Hickman, bid $70 on me during the auction to be fun and show support of the event,” Karakourtis said. “We have a really great school, with teachers and staff that go out of there way for you, have great school spirit and remember that although they are teachers and administration, they can still let loose and be fun..”
Karakourtis showed up to the event dressed to the nines in a tuxedo, but the sophistocated garb eventually gave way to a wardrobe consisting of sleaveless shirts and pink hats, fannie packs, fingerless gloves and stonewashed jeans for the song and dance routine he performed with friends Chad Swieca, Diego Ochoa, Alex Carrillo and Dalvell Triplett.
Songs featured during the performance were Flo-Rida’s “Right Round,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Enya’s “Only Time” and MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”
“Part of the event is coming up with a talent. Chad, Diego, Alex and Dalvell offered to donate their time and skills and be my back-up dancers,” Karakourtis said. “They were willing to do anything and wear anything to ensure the audience laughed and had a good time. (They were) asking off work to rehearse, missing plans of their own to practice, and even stayed with me sometimes till midnight practicing moves, creating new choreography, cutting music, etc., all to show support of this great cause.”
Needless to say, the 2013 Mr. Kaneland event was a memorable one for the resourceful teen.
“No one really knows the hours that are put into these events,” he said. “This was a true testament of (the group’s) friendship, integrity and character, and something I will never forget.”
The group’s performance can be found on YouTube under the title “Mr. Kaneland 2013.”
His faux boy band (left to right), Alex Carillo, Dalvell Triplett, Karakourtis, Chad Swieca and Diego Ochoa, helped make it happen.
KHS senior Mike Karakourtis (above, center) poses with his grandmother, Orla, and grandfather, Mike, after winning the Mr. Kaneland 2013 competition.