Tag Archives: Featured


Local church provides four-legged comfort

Photo: Chloe, a comfort dog from Lord of Life Lutheran Church in La Fox, gets love from some young dancers during a recent party at Dreams Dance Academy in La Fox. Photo by Debbie Behrends

LA FOX—Chloe Comfort Dog is living proof that happiness is a warm dog. And she recently visited with some young dancers at Dreams Dance Academy in LaFox.

A dozen little girls gently stroked Chloe’s soft golden coat, some sharing stories of their own pets or the desire for a dog. Handler Sue Kessler of South Elgin, Ill., listened to their stories, and shared a few tales of Chloe’s visits to people in need of the comfort a warm, gentle and calm dog can provide.

“(Chloe’s) been to Sandy Hook, to New York after superstorm Sandy, to Rockford after a shooting, Washington, Ill., after the November tornado, and so many more places,” Kessler said of the 3-year-old Golden Retriever.

A member of Lutheran Church Charities (LCC), Chloe is based at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in La Fox. Chloe’s mission, according to her Facebook page, is to bring a calming influence, allowing people to open their hearts and receive help in times of need.

Kessler explained that Chloe was trained as a general service dog in a women’s prison. She was picked specifically as a comfort dog based on her gentle temperament. She was 13 months old when her leash was passed to handlers at Lord of Life.

Chloe’s primary handlers are Sandy and Bob Kessler. Although she is of no relation to the primary handlers, Sue laughingly refers to herself as “Chloe’s grandma.”

Sue is no stranger to comfort dogs. She said she has been a handler before, and was among the first comfort teams to arrive at Northern Illinois University after the 2008 shooting that left six students dead.

“I was excited when the church decided to get a comfort dog,” Sue said.

Lutheran Church Charities’ website shows 44 working comfort dogs all over Northern Illinois and other states, as well. Two more are in training.

Dreams Dance Academy owner Jenny O’Brien learned of Chloe online.

“I saw a picture on Facebook of one of my students with the dog,” O’Brien said. “I contacted the church and invited her here.”

Watching her young dancers interact with Chloe, O’Brien smiled, pleased that she had reached out.

For more information about LCC and its comfort dogs, visit www.lutheranchurchcharities.org and click the Ministries tab and then K-9 Comfort Dog. For more pictures and specific information about Chloe, visit Facebook and search for Chloe Comfort Dog.

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Student’s drive, commitment leads to President’s Scholarship

MAPLE PARK—Carissa Miller is all about business. And heart.

Miller, a Maple Park resident and Kaneland High School senior, will major in business administration when she attends Indiana State University this fall.

Miller is one of 20 selected students across America to achieve the ISU President’s Scholarship, and one of two Kaneland High School students to earn the achievement.

Being a President’s Scholar means that if Miller keeps up good grades, she will get free tuition and premium housing at ISU, from freshman to senior year.

“It’s nice to see it pay off, because I’ve always been super-excited for college, too,” Miller said. “And I’ve been working two years now saving up for college. So it’s nice to know that I can pretty much do it on my own.”

Miller has made numerous accomplishments during her high school career. She has a 4.0 GPA, and has been a member of Kaneland’s National Honor Society her junior and senior years.

She also sings alto and performs in the school’s Madrigals chamber choir. She calls herself a “huge music nerd,” adding that she has done choir since the sixth grade. Miller last winter played the role of a queen during the Madrigal feaste event.

Miller has lent a helping hand by doing community service, such as volunteering at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva. She made care packages for babies, including small blankets, bottles and wipes. She also participated in student council and helped with the grocery food drop. Miller made requests to shoppers to pick up a couple of needed supplies like non-perishable items, deodorant and toothpaste for the military overseas.

Miller has a reason why she stays motivated.

“I’ve always been motivated by trying to be independent, I think,” Miller said. “Also, I like helping others. So that’s with the community service thing. That’s why I like to be like a leader in my student council and stuff like that. It’s because I get the duty to help others.”

Miller plans to have a career as a manager after finishing college. During college she plans to try out for choirs and volunteer as an ISU recruiter and at an animal shelter. She even hopes to possibly study overseas in Ireland.

Her dad, Scott Miller, chuckled as he thought about what makes his daughter special.

“She’s got a big heart to go with her intelligence,” he said.

Christina Staker, an English teacher at Kaneland High School, recalled Carissa going the extra mile in her yearbook class when she gave a PowerPoint presentation about why the yearbook should go along with her “unleashed” theme.

“She definitely has the leadership roles to become a CEO one day,” Staker said. “Or really be in charge of a mass group of people and make sure that good work comes out of whatever it is that they are creating.”

Photo by Patti Wilk

Photo by Marshall Farthing

Excellence in action

Boys track captures 2nd place in Class 2A State meet; boasts Barnes, Dyer as champs

CHARLESTON, Ill.—It was a group of athletes that rose to the occasion all season long.

One could probably say that about any incarnation of Kaneland boys track, but KHS resembled that remark with a vengeance in 2014.

With 84 team points and 12 finalists, the Knights were just six points behind Cahokia for the Class 2A State Title at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston, Ill., on Saturday. Cahokia won its fourth-straight title by outlasting KHS in the 4×400 m relay.

It marks their highest finish since a second-place, 53-point finish in 2010. KHS finished 16th in 2011, 11th in 2012 and sixth a year ago.

Kaneland also emerged from the Burlington Central Sectional as meet champs with 183 team points.

Burlington Central (38), Carbondale (34) and Chicago’s Dunbar (33) rounded out the top five. Conference rival Sycamore (26), Galesburg (25), Dixon (23), Dunlap (22) and Glenbard South (22) filled in the top 10.

The Knights were also able to boast two individual first-time State champs, with Ben Barnes leaping to the long jump crown with a finals effort of 23 feet, 5 inches. Teammate Nate Dyer heaved his way to the shot put honor at 58-05.25 in the finals.

“They both kept pushing themselves,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “They both had personal bests on a day when it meant the most. Ben had nothing to lose after his first five jumps and brought more speed into his jump than ever before. Nate had been very consistent in the shot all season. That consistent effort put him in the lead and he then could go even harder with out fear of scratches. It paid off with a huge PR. They both put themselves in a position where they had done what we needed for our team first and then pushed themselves to achieve more.”

More All-State honors came down the pike for KHS, with Dylan Kuipers taking fourth with a 14-09 in the pole vault. Alex Snyder captured fifth in the shot put in 54-5.5, while Dyer came back for a seventh in the discus at 152-04.

Barnes made it to the finals with a 22-2.75 jump on Friday, which was third overall in his heat and trumped Cahokia’s Jamari Ward by 6.5 inches in the final. The junior finished second at the sectional with a 21-09.

The junior was still in awe of the weekend’s events.

“It hasn’t really sunk in, I don’t know if it ever will,” Barnes said.

Barnes went in with something to prove against the 2A field.

“Jamari was the top jumper in the nation and was expected to win,” Barnes said. “I had something to prove and had a third in the prelims. Once he got hurt after his first jump, Baron and I knew I had an opportunity.”

By definition one of the best long jumpers in Illinois already, Barnes went for the prize once the field sorted itself out.

“I knew coming in that I had been doing really well and had made it to State, and I decided to give it everything I had on my last jump and got a PR,” Barnes said.

Barnes will get a chance to defend his 2A crown next year, after attending track camps in Arkansas and at Stanford.

Dyer made it to the shot finals with a 56-09, better by 1-4.5 feet over heat rival Trevor Fox of Dunlap. The senior won sectionals with a 56-02 in the final.

The 4x800m relay finished second at 7:49.33 thanks to the efforts of Austin Kintz, Luis Acosta, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera.

Kaneland had a double shot in the 110m high hurdles with Brock Robertson finishing sixth at 15.15, followed by Dylan Nauert in seventh at 15.16.

The 4x200m relay had a third-place day with Barnes, Brandon Bishop, Isaac Swithers and Nauert finishing in 1:29.00.

Kucera secured a sixth in the 400m dash by sprinting to a 50.00. Nauert (38.22) and Robertson (39.27) took third and fourth in the 300m intermediate hurdles.

KHS had Robertson, Bishop, Carter and Kucera take second in the 4x400m with a time of 3:18.46, just .80 off the Cahokia pace, and 1.46 ahead of the Burlington Central foursome.

Other finalists included Dan Evers with a ninth in the pole vault at 13-03. The 4x100m relay of Bishop, Brandon Cruz, Nauert and Swithers found themselves disqualified in the finals.

KHS also had a preliminary presence with State qualifier Dalvell Triplett, who jumped a 41-03.5 in the triple jump prelims.

After a successful weekend, the ability to reach for great heights is coming as less and less of a surprise.

“I believe our Kaneland track program is self-sustaining,” Baron said. “I believe we reload each season. We will lose a tremendous class of seniors. We return a great team that will build on the experience that they gained this season. We have built a program that has freshman and sophomores train side by side with seniors. We will pull a talented eighth-grade group into our program. We may not score 84 points, but I guarantee we will have a team that won’t give up.”


Lady Knights have bummer in Burlington

After close regional semi win vs. G-K, KHS falls in last inning to hosts
BURLINGTON, Ill.—For the Lady Knights, a 20-12 final record coupled with a hard-fought win over Genoa-Kingston on May 28 would have the markings of a pretty successful 2014.

The Kaneland lineup was hoping for more.

Class 3A regional host Burlington Central, the top seed in the grouping, escaped the field with a 6-5 win after a wild ride on the basepaths led to the winning run scoring after a single from second. A throw trying to nab the baserunner went out of play allowing the final run to come home.

Before that wild action, Kaneland used heads-up baserunning on May 28, thanks to a Morgan Weber steal of home in the 1-0 win.

Morrow pitched both games of the regional.

In the win over the No. 3 seed Cogs, Morrow, headed to the University of Wisconsin, fanned 10 batters.

“We came together as a team and we’re all in right now. The fastball was working, and he was giving me that corner, so I was working it. I knew I had to get outs after the run, either groundouts or strikeouts,” Morrow said.

The run came home in the bottom of the third, set up by a Weber single and Lanie Callaghan reaching on a fielder’s choice. With runners moved to second and third two batters later, a throw-out attempt of Callaghan at second was botched, allowing Weber to sneak home for the game’s only run.

“When something like that happens, you have to take the next base that opens up. I think our team’s coming together, and I think we’re playing a good game of softball,” Weber said.

After the win, KHS coach Brian Willis was glad for the clutch performances.

“I don’t know how many 0-2 counts Angie had, a bunch,” Willis said. “0-2, 1-2, that gives her a big advantage. With the run, we try to practice every situation. If the ball gets away like that, we’ve got to be on our toes.”

Against BC, the Rockets went up 4-0 after one inning and KHS cut it to 5-2 in the third. Closer at 5-3 in the seventh, Paige Kuefler’s two-run single tied the score and set the stage for the last frame.

With the loss, the Lady Knights bid goodbye to seniors Allie Miller, Lexi Roach, Hayley Contorno, Callaghan and Caroline Heimerdinger.

Photos by Marshall Farthing

Parker Wolfsmith

Kaneland teen killed by train in Maple Park

MAPLE PARK—Harter Middle School student Parker Wolfsmith was struck and killed by a Union Pacific freight train in Maple Park on Saturday night. Wolfsmith lived in an unincorporated area of Kane County outside of Maple Park.

The 14-year-old Wolfsmith, who was in the eighth grade, would have participated in a “promotion” ceremony on Tuesday, marking his move from middle school to high school.

According to Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta, Wolfsmith was on the east side of the railroad crossing at Liberty Street, and had gotten too close to the train when he was struck at 9:30 p.m. According to Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis, the west-bound train traveling from Joliet, Ill., to Wyoming consisted of 135 empty coal cars.

A few of Wolfsmith’s friends were at the scene when Acosta arrived. He was pronounced deceased at 10:01 p.m., according to the Kane County Coroner’s office.

Acosta said the Maple Park Police Department is in the process of trying to piece together what happened. He said it has not yet determined if a game in which a person stands as close to a train as possible when it comes by was involved in the incident.

“They like to feel the power of the train and the wind rushing by,” he said.

Acosta said it’s a very dangerous game. When the young person gets too close to the train, the wind from the train can pull them under it.

Acosta is not sure whether or not this was the case on Saturday night. He said they have ruled out suicide and there is no evidence of foul play.

According to Acosta, it could take a week for the Union Pacific to make available to the Police Department video footage that will show what took place at the front of the train that night.

Acosta said that Wolfsmith had moved to the Maple Park area last August to live with his father. The police chief said residents have told him that Wolfsmith and his friends were at the Saturday night Drop-in Center at the Maple Park Community Center earlier in the evening, but he has not yet been able to confirm this.

In a release issued from the Kaneland School District on Sunday, Superintendent Jeff Schuler said district staff wanted to “extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to Parker’s family and friends,” and asked that the community “keep Parker’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

The School District on Monday provided students the opportunity to meet with counselors at Kaneland Harter Middle School. Schuler said that teachers who had worked with Wolfsmith on a daily basis described him as a “fun-loving, bright kid,” a “great friend” and “someone who could always make you laugh with his witty sense of humor.”

Acosta was also at the school on Monday to talk to the students in Wolfsmith’s class about the incident.

According to Acosta, some of the students were having a difficult time with what had happened. This is the same class that, as seventh-graders last year, experienced the sudden death of another classmate, Caitlyn Phillips, who was hit by a car when she rollerbladed into the street.

Schuler said the eighth-grade promotion ceremony and the dance following was held as scheduled.

Acosta said the students with whom Wolfsmith typically ate lunch left an empty chair at their table on Monday.

Acosta said he went to sit in the chair and the students said, “No, no, that’s Parker’s.”


International Jousting Tournament coming to Maple Park

MAPLE PARK—Top-ranked jousters on Labor Day weekend will travel to Promise Equestrian Center, 45W050 Beith Road in Maple Park, to compete in a three-day-long, full-contact International Jousting Tournament.

Riders in this competition will hail from the United States, Canada and Australia, and are affiliated with one or more of the following groups: International Jousting League, The International Jousting Association, The International Jousting Champions and The International Series. There will be at least two women who will compete in the tournament, and one of them is the No. 1-ranked jouster in the world.

Preliminary jousts will take place on Friday, Aug. 29, and full competitions will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 30-31, with the Championship on Sunday afternoon.

“This is the first year ever for The International Series, and there will be five-to-six sanctioned tournaments around the country,” said Jerry Paulsen, co-founder and president of Boots and Hooves, Inc. “Ours will be the last for the season, and we are already looking to host at least two next year in 2015.”

All of these events are open to the public, with an admission fee. The event is a part of the Promise Equestrian Center’s Labor Day Heartland Equestrian Festival. Attendees will be able to select and choose from a variety of packages for both themselves or for the family.

Community members from the surrounding area have the opportunity to witness and partake in a weekend of full contact competitive jousting, games, fun and food.

“This is going to be a fantastic time for everyone young and old, novice or skilled in horsemanship or anything to do with horses and competitive sports,” Paulsen said. “Jousting is the only sport where both men and women compete equally. There is no difference in the rules, regardless of gender.”

Paulsen said Promise Equestrian Center will also have a huge equestrian show put on by master trainer Enrique Martinez of Monte Cristo Equestrian Center, which operates out of Promise Equestrian Center.

“The ultimate goal is for everyone to come out for a great weekend of friendship—old and new—food, family and fun.”


Photo: Promise Equestrian Center in Maple Park will play host to a full-contact jousting tournament Labor Day weekend.
Courtesy photos submitted to njuns@elburnherald.com


Dance teacher assists with ‘bucket list’ wish

Photo: Jenny O’Brien, owner of Dreams Dance Academy in La Fox, assists Cammy Babiarz in crossing an item off her bucket list by helping her tap dance. Photo by Debbie Behrends

LA FOX—The “tappa-tappa-tappa” of a dozen pairs of small feet was accompanied by excited squeals of glee on Sunday at Dreams Dance Academy in La Fox.

Although Cameron “Cammy” Babiarz, 5, of Wheaton, is in a wheelchair and unable to tap on her own, Dreams Dance Academy teacher Jenny O’Brien and a young assistant moved her legs so she could feel and hear the taps, too.

Cammy at 18 months of age was diagnosed with Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder that affects about one in 10,000 girls.

“I was just really touched by their story,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien became acquainted with the Babiarz family in March when Cammy’s dad, Bill Babiarz, ran across Illinois to raise awareness for the syndrome and funds for research. He made a stop in Elburn, and Jenny and her students presented him with several pairs of legwarmers for Cammy.

In the past year, the Babiarz family has raised about $90,000 for research. And Cammy has been accepted into a clinical trial starting in July in Boston for drug therapy that may reverse the syndrome’s effects.

“Hopefully this drug will be beneficial,” said Cammy’s mom, Jackie Babiarz. “(Rett’s) was reversed in mice in 2007. We’re confident there will be a cure in her lifetime.”

According to Jackie, Rett’s is not terminal, but life expectancy is “about 40” years of age. She said there was no indication at birth that anything was wrong with Cammy.

“It’s just a genetic fluke; it’s not hereditary,” Jackie said. “(Cammy) developed normally until she was about 8 months old, when she just stopped progressing. At 14 months she lost hand function, and at 18 months she lost the ability to sit up on her own.”

Tap dancing is one of the many items on Cammy’s bucket list. And that’s where O’Brien comes in.

A dance teacher for 15 years, O’Brien teaches a wide variety of styles in addition to tap dance, including ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and musical theater. With no specific training for working with children with special needs, O’Brien said she loves teaching and loves working with children.

Jackie said Cammy receives aquatherapy and hippotherapy, allowing her to enjoy swimming and horseback riding. Although she is unable to speak, Cammy uses eye-tracking devices and buttons to communicate with her family and teachers.

“We were just so excited when Jenny offered this special party. It brought tears to my eyes to see how excited Cammy was,” Jackie said.

The party also was attended by Cammy’s younger sister, Ryan, 3, along with several cousins and friends.

O’Brien said she would like to start a class for children with special needs.

For more information about Dreams Dance Academy, call (630) 262-5051 or visit www.dreamsdance.com.


A worthy weekend

Photos: Freshman Nicole Sreenan (right) earned All-State accolades in four events at the IHSA State Meet: 100m dash (eighth, 12.50), 400m dash (third, 56.34), 4x100m relay (sixth, 49.03) and 4x200m relay (eighth, 1:45.25). Freshman Carly Elliott (1899) hands off to sophomore Allie Heinzer (below, left) during the 4x100m relay final at the IHSA State Meet Saturday. The quartet of Elliott, Heinzer, Nicole Sreenan and Lauren Zick placed sixth.
Photos by Ben Draper

Kaneland girls track’s trek to EIU ends with 11th place in team standings
KANELAND—Chalk up the recent trip to Charleston, Ill., as a productive one for Kaneland girls track.

With 21 team points at the Class 2A State meet held at O’Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University, the Lady Knights took 11th overall in the state out of all qualified 2A programs.

The Lady Knights beat out Northern Illinois Big XII crossover rival Dixon by two points to hold onto 11th, while KHS was just three points behind Fenwick of Oak Park, Ill., for 10th.

“It was by far the most talented team we have ever had as far as speed was concerned,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We also had very good depth at the other events as well, as shown by the fact we had individuals or relay teams qualify in 11 events for state and then be able to place in six of those at State.”

Cahokia (61), Normal University (54), Chicago’s Noble Street Charter/Johnson (38), Springfield (36) and Chicago’s Brooks (33) filled out the top five slots.

IMG_2796 Kaneland even saw All-State finishes from three of their relays. The 4x100m relay squad of Carly Elliott, Allie Heinzer, Nicole Sreenan and Lauren Zick finished sixth overall with a time of 49.03 after running 49.13 in Friday’s prelims. The 4x200m relay of Olivia Galor, Becca Richtman, Heinzer and Elliott ran a 1:45.25 for eighth place. Finally, the 4x400m group of Galor, Sreenan, Sydney Strang and Heinzer took seventh at 4:01.60 for all-State honors.

Sreenan was also All-State in both the 100m (eighth) and 400m (third) dashes. Sreenan finished her 2014 season with a 56.34 in the 400m final gathering, .69 off the pace of Cahokia’s Mariya Hudson. Her 12.50 effort in the 100m earned her the final All-State spot in that event.

Other finalists from Saturday’s action representing Kaneland were Christina Delach, finishing seventh in pole vault with 10 feet, 9 inches, which earned the senior all-State honors.

Maddie Keifer finished 15th in high jump with a 5-footer.

In the 3,200m run finals, Brianna Bower finished 13th with a time of 11:26.53.

KHS also had plenty of other State entries compete on Friday, with Elle Tattoni throwing a 35-08 in the shot put and a 108-02 in discus.

The 4x800m relay of Richtman, Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Strang ran a 10:01.18.

Capping a productive girls track season saw highlights on the point scale, but also in the personnel themselves.

“The indoor NIB-12 invitational championship and the second sectional team championship were the team highlights,”Ecker said. “(It was a) responsible and hard-working group of girls with excellent leadership from the seniors.”


Fantastic Friday for KHS boys track

Photo: Sophomore Austin Kintz was a surprising State qualifier for the Knights in the 1600m run, with a big run of 4:30.06. Photo by Marshall Farthing

Success comes Knights way at BC boys track sectional
BURLINGTON, Ill.—It’s come to be expected that the Kaneland boys track program will outdo themselves every so often.

There was no departure from the norm on Friday afternoon on the grounds of Burlington Central High School. That’s where the KHS outfit laid waste to the rest of the field and piled on 183 team points for the sectional crown.

Burlington Central’s 75.5 was a distant second, followed by Sycamore’s 72, Dixon’s 67 and Winnebago’s 43.

The six-through-10 schools were Rochelle (32), Sterling (25), Rockford Christian (21), Genoa-Kingston (122) and Freeport (9).

The Knights were able to qualify for this Friday’s IHSA Class 2A State finals in Charleston, Ill. in 13 of 18 events due to the outstanding output in Burlington.

“This week is all about normal practice, fine tuning some little things such as handoffs, starts and just getting in the right state of mind,” KHS coach Eric Baron said.

The first-places began with the 4×800-meter relay foursome that aced the Rockets track in 7:55.32. The 4x200m relay also took a first with a time of 1:29.54. The 4x400m relay joined them with a mark of 3:21.57.

Senior Alex Snyder will throw shot put at the State meet this weekend after a 53-10.75 effort at Friday’s Sectional. 					       Photo by Marshall Farthing
Senior Alex Snyder will throw shot put at the State meet this weekend after a 53-10.75 effort at Friday’s Sectional. Photo by Marshall Farthing

On the field side, it was KHS mainstay Dylan Kuipers earning a first in the pole vault with an effort of 14 feet, six inches.

Nate Dyer was able to claim both throwing events for himself, winning the shot put with a 56-02, and the discus at 164-08, a foot farther than Winnebago entry Chris Smith.

Kyle Carter rounded out the first-places with a 49.89 in the 400m dash.

Second-place honors were also good enough to punch a ticket to O’Brien Field this weekend, beginning with the 4x100m relay squad running in 42.76.

Ben Barnes was able to capture second in the long jump at 21-09, and teammate Dan Evers nabbed a second behind Kuipers in the pole vault with a 13-09.

In the shot put, Alex Snyder managed a 53-10.75, and Dalvell Triplett wrote a ticket to State with a 43-11.5 in the triple jump.

“The triple jump was also a big surprise,” Baron said. “Dalvell hit over qualifying on his first jump and Ben Barnes has 2-05 PR on his long jump. It really got the ball rolling.”

Rounding out the runners-up were personnel like Dylan Nauert in the 110m high hurdles at 14.75 and 300m low hurdles in 38.74, Nathaniel Kucera in the 400m dash at 49.93, and Austin Kintz in the 1,600m run at 4:30.06.

“Kintz was the biggest surprise,” Baron said. “He executed his race plan perfectly, and it was so rewarding for him and us coaches.”

Brock Robertson’s two fourth places in the 110m hurdles (15.22) and 300m hurdles (39.66) were enough to join the State caravan, as well.

The Class 2A preliminaries take place on Friday, May 30, and conclude on Saturday, May 31, on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.


Knights heights

Four-decade tradition of PV State presence still going strong
KANELAND—When you hit your 30s, you think you’ve seen most everything.

With Kaneland High School’s boys track squad on its way to the State finals in Charleston, Ill., this coming Friday, the program hopes there’s still amazing things on the pole vault side it hasn’t seen.

Beginning with a sixth-place finish from athlete Paul Johnson back in 1972, the pole vaulters have graced Kaneland with consistency and noteworthy heights. KHS hopes to continue that tradition with the duo of Dylan Kuipers and Dan Evers qualifying for the State finals. Kuipers’ 14 feet, 6 inch effort coupled with Evers’ 13-09 cinched the 32nd-straight season KHS has a State ticket in pole vault.

With three State champs and 27 all-State athletes, the Knights have found no shortage of elite personnel ready and willing to vault at Eastern Illinois University.

Boys pole vault coach Andy Drendel starts with the basics.

“No Kaneland vaulter has ever been hurt or put in a bad spot from vaulting. I take pride in teaching them how to be safe, and I don’t allow bad habits to form early on in their vault career. Having the right poles provided by our booster club has made my job easier. It allows me to focus on the vaulters’ technique so they can reach their full potential,” Drendel said.

Kuipers and Evers had a talent base and room to learn throughout their time at KHS.

“Dan Evers and Dylan Kuipers both were 5 feet tall and made 9’6 as freshmen, which is pretty average. They are now 15’3.5 and 13’9 vaulters and ranked top 10 in the state. They learned the proper form early on as freshmen, hit a growth spurt and physically matured. Since they already had a great technical base they developed as freshmen, they both developed very quickly when they grew into men,” Drendel said.

Evers, who is qualifying for the first time, is glad to go down there and not be the only Knight rep.

“I only got a 9-6 as a freshman, so to get State qualifying height is awesome,” Evers said. “As seniors, you’re determined to go down to State, so it’s great that we get to do this.”

Kuipers, who plans to join the vaunted North Central College track program next year after two EIU trips, feels the pole vaulters have always been on a different vibe.

“We have our own bond,” Kuipers said. “We’re with the team, but when it’s time for our event, it’s go time. It’s just us vaulters.”

With his first place at the Burlington Central Sectional, Kuipers’ approach made a difference.

“I didn’t put as much pressure on myself this second year,” Kuipers said. “I made the heights that I needed to, and that was a good start.”

Sam Kranz, member of the Class of 2007 and former University of Northern Iowa track athlete, was the last All-Stater, having reached a fourth place his senior year.

“I had a really good pole vault coach in Randy Oleson, and I expected to do well once I went down to State,” Kranz said. “My senior year, there was a lot of pressure on myself after having qualified three years. Dylan and Dan have their expectations going into it.”

Kranz still feels pride about the roster of vaulters he’s a part of.

“You go on the track website that they do an awesome job with and see the Top 50 list, and it’s really cool to see that,” Kranz said.

Class of 2013 member Kory Harner, who qualified three years in a row and attends Hope College in Holland, Mich., is mindful that determination and daring plays a sizable role.
“One year, I didn’t plant my first eight times. You just have to keep going, even if you have a bad practice or a bad meet,” Harner said.

The willingness to work stuck with Harner as part of the seemingly endless list of successful vaulters.

“Nobody gets by on sheer talent, it’s so completely different from anything. You see the tradition, you do the same drills and you build on it,” Harner said.

With a roster of vaulters tasting State since the Nixon administration, and consecutively since the 1980s, the event can only look forward.

“I love our KPV summer camp,” Drendel said. “In the past few years, I’ve had more kids from Geneva, St. Charles and Batavia come to my camp than Kaneland kids. I’ve asked those kids how they heard about my camp.”

“They said, ‘Everyone knows Kaneland has great vaulters.'”


Softball steadying

Photo: A Kaneland coach talks with a KHS baserunner at a recent game. The Lady Knights faced off against Genoa-Kingston Wednesday as part of the
Burlington Central Regional. Results were not available as of press time.
Courtesy photo submitted by Linda Kelley to ads@elburnherald.com

KANELAND—KHS softball was able to get itself into a groove at the late juncture of the regular season, and just in time.

Navigating its way through numerous cancellations and postponements two weeks ago, the Lady Knights were able to see action against Morris on May 21, winning 6-0 and facing off against host Rosary in a doubleheader to put a final note on the regular season, sweeping both morning contests on Saturday before beating West Aurora 1-0 in the afternoon.

KHS sits at 19-11 and finishes the Northern Illinois Big XII conference season at 7-3.

Angie Morrow won the game over the Morris Redskins, who dropped to 18-9, and allowed just two hits on the afternoon.

Courtney Davis excelled in the pitchers’ circle for the Game 1 win over the Royals, while Shannon Herra took the Game 2 win.

In the win over the Blackhawks, Morrow earned his second win in four days.

Up next for Kaneland was the Wednesday, May 28, meeting as part of the Burlington Central Regional as the No. 2 seed against No. 3 Genoa-Kingston. The Lady Knights-Cogs matchup was for the right to face BC, Hampshire or Sycamore in the Saturday, May 31, championship at 10 a.m. Results weren’t available at press time.

A year ago, Kaneland’s six-run rally against Rosary fell short in the final inning in the Rosary Regional title game.


Field of hope

Photo: Sisters Emma, 4, and Kailey Kunstman, 6, wearing their red, white and blue, visited the KHS Healing Field to honor the military during the opening ceremony on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Last weekend’s Healing Field display at Kaneland High School caught the community’s attention.

According to Rudy Keller, chair of the Kaneland Healing Field Committee and interim co-athletic director of Kaneland High School, a total of about 3,000 people attended the Healing Field between May 23 and Memorial Day. The event remained open until Tuesday.

The Healing Field took place on the grassy field to the east of the high school. The idea of the field is to symbolize patriotism and honor the servicemen and servicewomen who have fought to defend America and people’s freedom, Keller said.

One thousand American flags filled the field. People could purchase flags to represent the veterans who have served America and veterans who have died.
Keller said that more than half of the flags were sold.
All flag proceeds will go to local American Legions in Maple Park, Elburn and Sugar Grove.

Everything with the Healing Field went as scheduled, with one exception: the plan was to set up an additional 2,000 American flags in the community.

“We could not put the flags on Keslinger Road,” Keller said. “I wanted to line Keslinger Road with flags, from County Line to Route 47. But that wasn’t approved by the Department of Transportation, the county. So we just changed our plans.”

Those extra flags ended up getting set up around the perimeter of the high school.

Keller explained that the work involved in putting together the event ranged from doing lots of planning and having lots of volunteers to measuring the field to have perfect rows of flags.

The events had what Keller called “a variety of different layers.”

The Healing Field events had both an opening ceremony and Memorial Day ceremony. Highlights from Monday’s event included KHS students singing patriotic songs like “National Anthem,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”

Two World War II military planes did a flyover during Saturday’s opening ceremony, as the crowd in attendance cheered and applauded.
CW4 Ty Simmons was the keynote speaker on Saturday. He spoke of honoring United States of America by doing things like attending the Healing Field, remembering veterans and taking pride in the colors of the American flag.

“We had many, many, many visitors each day,” Keller said. “And every one of them commented how special it was. The beauty of it is just breathtaking out here.”


Ironing it out

Photo: Junior Jacob Bachio makes a play on an ACC runner at second base. Kaneland lost the final regular season matchup with ACC, 6-0, and play the Chargers again today at 4:30 p.m. in Plano. Photo by Mary Paulson

KHS diamond boys fall in regular season finale to upcoming playoff foe
KANELAND—If adjustments have to be made, there’s no more ideal time than just before the playoffs.

For KHS baseball, the adjustments in the current layoff will have to do enough before today.

With just one game on the slate this past week, the Knights lost to the Aurora Central Catholic Chargers lineup in Maple Park by a final of 6-0, in what Kaneland hopes is not a precursor to their regional meeting.

KHS finishes the regular season with a mark of 15-15 and 9-6 in Northern Illinois Big XII play. Kaneland is currently in a funk that has seen it drop six out of its last seven contests.

Kevin Kassinger was tagged with the loss in the Friday encounter, going four innings while giving up four runs on six hits.

ACC scored two runs in the first, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the sixth to seal the result.

On the Knights side, Nate Hopkins went 1-for-2 with a walk, while Kevin Fuchs went 1-for-3 in the losing cause.

All that remains is the postseason, which first takes the form of the 3A Plano Regional.

KHS is set to play on Thursday, May 29, at 4:30 p.m. against No. 3 ACC as the second seed. The winner faces either No. 1 St. Francis of Wheaton or No. 4 Sandwich. Sandwich had defeated No. 5 Plano 2-1, while ACC defeated IMSA 17-0 in Monday games.

The regional final would take place on Saturday, May 31, at 10 a.m.
A year ago, St. Francis got the better of Kaneland in the Kaneland Regional final by 3-2 clip, in the Knights’ first regional final opportunity since the State championship run of 2011.

Color Guard members from Elburn American Legion Post No. 630 lead Elburn Cub Scout Troop 107, Elburn Boy Scout Troop 7 and a host of other parade participants on a short trek from Elburn Lions Park to Blackberry Cemetery for the start of the Elburn Memorial Day Ceremony.

Photos: Memorial Day blessings

Photos from around our towns on Memorial Day. Photos by Natalie Juns, Lynn Logan and Patti Wilk
Color Guard members from Elburn American Legion Post No. 630 lead Elburn Cub Scout Troop 107, Elburn Boy Scout Troop 7 and a host of other parade participants on a short trek from Elburn Lions Park to Blackberry Cemetery for the start of the Elburn Memorial Day Ceremony.

At the Kaneland Healing Field ceremony, a mother and her son spend some time among the 1,000 flags.
At the Kaneland Healing Field ceremony, a mother and her son spend some time among the 1,000 flags.
Anna Wendling, 16, of Kaneville, marches in Monday's Kaneville's Memorial Day Parade playing her snare drum.
Anna Wendling, 16, of Kaneville, marches in Monday’s Kaneville’s Memorial Day Parade playing her snare drum.
Boy Scout Troop No. 7 and helpers place flags on veteran headstones May 22.
Boy Scout Troop No. 7 and helpers place flags on veteran headstones May 22.
Members of the US Navy carry a Navy Memorial Wreath to place under the U.S. Navy flag. Memorial wreaths were placed for each branch of the service.
Members of the US Navy carry a Navy Memorial Wreath to place under the U.S. Navy flag. Memorial wreaths were placed for each branch of the service.
Members of Sugar Grove American Legion Post No. 1271 fire off a salute to the veterans on Monday morning at Sugar Grove Cemetery.
Members of Sugar Grove American Legion Post No. 1271 fire off a salute to the veterans on Monday morning at Sugar Grove Cemetery.
A vintage military jeep and soldiers enter Blackberry Cemetery Monday during Elburn’s celebration.
A vintage military jeep and soldiers enter Blackberry Cemetery Monday during Elburn’s celebration.

Hole(s)-in-one at Hughes

A couple hole-in-ones were shot at Hughes Creek Golf Club in Elburn this past week. On May 21, Deb Peterson (right) of St. Charles shot a hole-in-one on the 140-yard hole No. 17, a par 3. Peterson’s shot was witnessed by Ken Peterson. On Sunday, Elburn’s Joel Speckman (below) shot a hole-in-one on the 152-yard hole No. 3, a par 3. Speckman used a Callaway Razr X 7 iron with a Callaway golf ball. Speckman’s wife, Sue, was the witness.
Photos submitted to sports@elburnherald.com


Family seeks funds for autism service dog

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove resident Jason Mann looks at his son Marshall and sees joy contagious to those who are around him.

“Immediately, he’ll walk into a room and want to give people hugs and smile,” Jason said. “Like with the rest of us who are older in life, there’s no pessimism whatsoever. He’s still young and innocent.”

Marshall, a 5-year-old pre-schooler, has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He was diagnosed with it in December 2011 when he was just 36 months old.

Marshall tends to wander and bolt in parking lots, the family’s yard, even department stores. And he can have meltdowns from time to time. He does talk; however, Jason said that what Marshall speaks is scripted, practiced and, for the most part, echoed.

The ASD diagnosis was not an easy one for Mann and his wife Gretchen to hear.
Mann Family
“It took me a long time,” Jason said. “It probably took me at least six months to finally come to grips and accept (the diagnosis). It took awhile.”

Gretchen said that she and her husband took the “proactive approach.” They educated themselves about autism and tried to find means to help their son.

The couple is raising money to buy Marshall an autism service dog through 4 Paws For Ability, a non-profit organization that places service dogs with children who have disabilities.

The autism service dog costs $22,000. The organization raises a portion of that amount; however, the Mann family has to raise a total of $14,000.

Through fundraising for a month, the couple needs to raise about $8,000 to make the mark of getting a service dog to help Marshall. The dog will be a puppy that will be trained for a year to meet Marshall’s needs.

At that point, the dog will be there for Marshall.

The dog will be able to give Marshall a nudge, nuzzle or kiss, a deep pressure to hold Marshall down, and the ability to track him if Marshall leaves the house. Marshall could be tethered with the dog. It would also provide companionship and a means to have more social interaction with children.

Those who want to help donate can go to www.razoo.com/story/An-Autism-Service-Dog-For-Marshall. Those interested in donating can also go to www.4PawsForAbility.org/donate-now. The name “Marshall Mann” must be written in the Instructions to Merchant section.

Checks can also be written with the name “Marshall Mann” on the memo and mailed to: 4 Paws For Ability; In Honor of Marshall Mann; 253 Dayton Ave.; Xenia, Ohio 45385.

The joyful side of Marshall was on display during a recent afternoon at home. He smiled brightly; completely engaged with his eyes locked on a tablet’s matching game while sitting on his dad’s lap.

Gretchen explained what makes Marshall so special.

“He kind of gets to your heart and pulls at your heartstrings,” she said.

Marshall Mann 3 Marshall’s sister Scarlett, 3, knows exactly what she likes about her brother.

“I like to play with him so much,” Scarlett said. “I love my brother.”


Great turnout & success for Special Olympics fundraiser

ELBURN—Sunday marked the seventh annual Pulling for Special Olympics event, held at the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club in Elburn. The event year after year continues to grow and includes more people who are passionate about raising funds for Special Olympics participants.

The funds that are raised at the event are allocated for the participation fees for people who want to participate in the Special Olympics. Over 350 people attended the event on Sunday for an afternoon of clay pigeon and trap shooting.

Colleen MacRunnels, one of the main organizers of the event, commented on the importance of the fundraiser.

“The money we raise pays the participation for people in the Special Olympics,” she said. “We also have all-in participants today who pay $500 to shoot. It warms my heart.”

The Maple Park Police are supporters of the event, and many of the officers, including Chief Mike Acosta, were in attendance. Maple Park Police Officer Ray Radis was there to help out, as well.

“I’ll do anything to help,” Radis said. “It’s great for the kids, and it’s a wonderful to do.”

Acosta has been participating in Pulling for the Special Olympics since he started working in Maple Park.

“This is a great event, and it teaches people how to use a gun safely,” Acosta said. “It also raises a lot of money. We would like to be the highest-raising group in the state of Illinois this year.”

This year, organizers added a special twist and invited disabled veterans out to the event at no charge. Janet and Charlie Johnson from the Vaughan Paralyzed Veterans of America appeared at the event to show their support.

“This is a great opportunity for veterans to assimilate back into civilian life and use guns for recreational purposes,” Janet said. “They can feel good about being at this event that’s for a good cause without being the spotlight.”

There was also a raffle and a silent auction run by Jim MacRunnels.

“Our sponsors donated all kinds of guns, equipment for the guns and for camping,” Jim said. “There are also bigger items, too.”

Jim later said that over $45,000 was raised during the afternoon.

A couple of outdoor games and activities were also set up for people to enjoy during the event. Stacy Reever and her daughter, Kassidy, volunteered for the day and were helping out with a couple of activities.

“I have been helping to fundraise for the Special Olympics for 10 years, and my daughter Kassidy has volunteered with me,” Stacy said. “Kassidy started a Special Olympics club by us when there wasn’t one.”

Terry Monnett, a supporter of the event, became involved in helping raise funds for the Special Olympics because of the MacRunnels’ interest in the cause.

“The president of the gun club at the time was very supportive of raising funds for the Special Olympics when we approached him, and the club has been a great help ever since,” Monnett said. “This is one of the most unique events, and I’ve heard of other people in different areas wanting to create an event like this one after they hear about it.”


Raiding Rosary Regional

KHS soccer gets off on right foot vs. Rochelle
AURORA—Never let it be said that Kaneland soccer fails to make the most of its opportunities when it counts.

As a threat of storms and hail permeated the area, No. 1 Kaneland not only got the Class 2A Rosary Regional semifinal completely in against No. 4 Rochelle, the match even shaved 10 minutes off due to Kaneland’s goal margin in the 7-0 result. Kaneland defeated IMSA in the Rochelle Regional semi a year ago, 8-0.

A portion of state-wide action had action postponed or stopped due to threatening weather, with action resuming on Wednesday.

After Kaneland’s lone win of the week, the Lady Knights improved to 14-3-2 in 2014.

As was the case for many of the 14 wins this season, the KHS crew poured on the offense. The goal barrage came from a wide array of options, including three corner kicks.

“We’re really good at them,” Madi Jurcenko said. “It happens where someone is always there where I kick it. Today, we were able to finish them.”

“It’s huge; that’s probably 17 goals off corner kicks this year,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “It’s something the girls take pride in—good for us, good for the girls. One of our goals was to win conference, we did that. The other was to win a regional championship. Hopefully, we will.”
The scoring barrage began in the first half with a goal from Courtney Diddell just two minutes, 42 seconds into the match. Madi Jurcenko had a goal trickle through with 27:46 to go for the two-goal edge. Rochelle would miss a penalty kick try with 6:33 to go in the half, and Brittany Olson would make the Lady Hubs pay with a sliding attempt for a goal with 2:19 remaining for a 3-0 edge going into halftime.

Olson wasted no time tallying the team’s fourth goal less than a minute into the second half to make it 4-0.

With 32:40 to go, Delaney Stryczek executed a header that found its way between the posts to go up 5-0.

“Madi does our crosses for us,” Stryczek said. “She always gets it back-post, and I stay more toward the back post. She hits it perfectly, right where it needs to be, and I just headed it right in the back of the net.”

The penultimate goal came off the cleat of Holly Collingbourne off of several rebounds with 27:13 remaining.

Kiandra Powell’s rocket with just over 20 minutes remaining cemented the final margin and punched the regional final ticket.

KHS advances to the Rosary Regional final against either No. 2 Rosary or No. 3 IMSA for a Saturday, May 24, meeting at 11 a.m.


Sophomore Gabby Cano (top, right) heads the ball in the first half of Kaneland’s 7-0 win over Rochelle Tuesday. Senior Brittany Olson (above, left), maneuvers around three Rochelle defenders enroute to Kaneland’s third goal of the first half. Kaneland defeated Rochelle 7-0 in the Regional opener Tuesday.
Photos by Patti Wilk


KHS rolls to NIB-12 title

Sectional meet challenge awaits Friday
KANELAND—It was all in a conference season’s work on Saturday at Kaneland for the Northern Illinois Big XII boys track meet.

A weather delay from Friday evening didn’t deter any Kaneland success, as the Knights finished first with a total of 146. Dixon was next with a distant 92, followed by DeKalb’s 78, Sycamore’s 67 and Geneseo’s 57.5 to fill in the top five. Yorkville (35), LaSalle-Peru (29), Sterling (29), Rochelle (14.5) and Ottawa (10) filled out the point-registering outfits, as Morris and Streator failed to record varsity points.

“The seniors got this team going,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “We had eight conference champions; seven by seniors.”

KHS saw relay success beginning with the 4×800 meter crew of Austin Kintz, Luis Acosta, Andrew Lesak and Nathaniel Kucera’s 8:04.15 for first place. The Brandon Bishop/Brock Robertson/Dylan Nauert/Isaac Swithers foursome took third in the 4x100m relay.

The 110m hurdles had Robertson take a second place with a time of 15.07 in finals action.

Kyle Carter managed to win the 800m run field and become conference champ with a time of 1:55.55, .96 seconds better than Dixon’s Kylian Lally.

Relay action continued with a second-place effort of the 4×200 crew of Ben Barnes, Bishop, Nauert and Swithers with a time of 1:30.49.

Kaneland then put its stamp on the 400m dash with Kucera becoming conference champ at 49.69 seconds, while Andrew Lesak took third at 52.40.

Nauert returned in the 300m hurdles to capture first with an effort of 39.07 seconds, a new NIB-12 record.

Kaneland capped the event on its own grounds with a Robertson/Bishop/Carter/Kucera win in the 4×400 by racing a 3:24.21, a new conference record.

Field events saw conference record holder Dylan Kuipers (15 feet) and Dan Evers (13-06) take the top two spots in the pole vault. Barnes was able to secure the long jump crown and an NIB-12 record with a 22-07 jump. Nate Dyer was able to make third in the discus at 148 feet, while acing the shot at 55-.5 and taking a new conference record.

Baron was also proud how the team conducted itself after one of its frosh/soph discus throwers, Tristan Kinder, was injured after a disc hit him through netting after a bounceback, requiring surgery to repair a broken bone below his eye.

“The boys on the team offered to drive his mom to the hospital. They comforted her and Tristan while this whole ordeal was taking place. As a coaching staff, we strive to have great athletes, but our number-one goal is to make these young men into caring compassionate people and that is exactly what happened. The victory is great, but to hear how the boys responded was what I was most proud of this weekend,” Baron said.

The Class 2A Burlington Central sectional, featuring Kaneland and 15 other squads, kicks off Friday, May 23, at 4 p.m.

“Looking ahead, our goal as always at sectional is to get as many state qualifiers as possible,” Baron said. “The team scores will take care of themselves.”

Photos by Marshall Farthing

DSC_0391 (2)

Knights baseball makes diamond rough

Photo: Senior Curtis Thorson pitching for the Knights at the Pack the Park Special Event. Photo by Mary Paulson

KANELAND—On Thursday, Kaneland went to the Northern Illinois Big XII well once again for a trip to Morris, but lost 4-1. On Saturday, KHS hosted non-conference rival St. Charles East in Maple Park and lost 4-2.

Kaneland also traveled to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark for its Senior Night in Geneva, and faced Batavia only to lose 10-1. On Tuesday at Cary-Grove High School, the Knights earned a 6-4 win behind junior Nick Stratman’s five-inning effort and Anthony Holubecki’s four strikeouts in relief.

Kaneland sits at 15-14, with a 9-6 record in NIB-12 play, and just one regular season challenge left.

Facing the Redskins, Jacob Bachio went 1-for-2 with a run scored, while sophomore Holubecki was belted with the loss despite six strikeouts.

Against the Saints, Danny Hammermeister had an RBI groundout, and Stratman belted a solo homer in the seventh inning. Colton Fellows was tagged with the loss.

Sean Dunphy went 1-for-2 with an RBI against the Bulldogs, as Nick Henne suffered the loss on the mound.

The honorees before the varsity contest at the home of the Kane County Cougars were Harter Middle School student Drew Hahn, son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn, and dealing with Anaplastic Large-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Phil Kassinger—father of Knight baseball player Kevin Kassinger—who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer; and KHS softball coach Brian Willis, battling colon cancer. All proceeds collected were donated to the families.

Tuesday saw Stratman also score two runs and go 2-4 at the plate. Tyler Carlson was 2-4 with a run and an RBI while Hammermeister was 1-4 with a double, run scored and two RBI.

On Friday, the Knights travel to Aurora Central Catholic for the regular season ender.


Eagle Scout project benefits local wildlife center

ELBURN—After volunteering at the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn, Joshua Yeggy, a Boy Scout of Elburn Troop 7, decided that he wanted his Eagle Scout Service Project to help beautify the garbage and waste disposal area at the Elburn Forest Preserve, where the center is located.

Yeggy will be a senior at Kaneland High School this fall, and has been involved with the Boy Scouts since he was a Tiger Cub in grade school.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to lead my fellow Scouts in creating this project,” Yeggy said. “This experience has greatly helped my leadership skills develop.”

Yeggy also felt that the Fox Valley Wildlife Center was very deserving of this project. Teresa Yeggy, Joshua’s mother, explained why her son felt passionate about choosing the center for his service project.

“Joshua had volunteered there in the past and felt they deserved something for all the work they do rehabilitating wildlife,” Teresa said. “They’ve rescued and helped many animals that would otherwise have no place to go.”

Josh had to accomplish a good amount of planning and organizing in order to make his service project a reality. He had to first identify the project, draft a proposal that had to be approved by the Boy Scout council, and conduct a fundraiser to cover all of the expenses, and coordinate the work at the construction site.

The Eagle Scout Service Project is meant to grow and develop the Scout’s leadership skills. Yeggy didn’t have experience designing different projects, but that wasn’t the point. He developed leadership skills that he otherwise wouldn’t have without completing his project.

As a part of Yeggy’s project, he was assigned an Eagle councilor and a technical advisor. The Eagle councilor helped him develop the leadership skills he needed, and advised him on how to stay on track with the project. The technical advisor instructed Yeggy on the specific steps he needed to know in order to design the dumpster corral and the design for the recycling part of it.

On the day they built the dumpster corral and the recycling section, Kane County Landscaping Material & Supply, Inc., donated a total of 3 tons of gravel at no charge, and Paisano’s Pizza and Grill in Elburn donated pizza for the entire crew.

“As Joshua’s mother, I really appreciate all of the work that Elburn Troop 7 does for the boys and the community,” Teresa. “Kane County Landscaping not only donated two tons of gravel, but they came through with an additional ton when it was needed at the last minute.

“Paisanos donated close to $100 in pizza for all the workers, which was no small feat. Thank you to all of the family, Troop, and community members that helped Joshua make this a successful project.”


Michels presents ‘new frontier’ with village address

Photo: Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels addressed attendees at “The New Frontier,” Sugar Grove State of the Village Address May 7 at Waubonsee Community College. Photo by Patti Wilk

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels on May 7 gave his State of the Village Address, “The New Frontier,” at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove.

According to Michels, the village of Sugar Grove recently annexed 900 acres of land north and south of I-88 with Crown Development. The land will be utilized for distribution, retail and as a highway corridor (on and off the highway).

“They will start planning for water, sewer and zoning,” Michels said. “Not many communities are annexing that amount of land.”

Michels also spoke about the new 60-unit senior living development that will be located off of Galena Boulevard and west of Division Drive. The living development will be available for seniors who are 55 years of age and older. The location will be in walking distance to Rush Copley Urgent Care, Walgreens and Cadence Health Office, which will be convenient for residents. PIRHL is the leading developer for the project.

Rent in the senior living development will be determined by an individual’s income and then priced accordingly.

The Cadence Health Office opened in February of this year and held its ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 1. The office, located at 414 Division Drive, provides both primary care and physical therapy. The office is experiencing growth in the amount of staff members it has on its team in order to accommodate residents and community members alike.

“Their office started with one part-time physical therapist, and now they have two full-time and one part-time physical therapist,” Michels said.

Michels noted that because Cadence and Northwestern are in talks of a merger, there might be an opportunity for the office to expand in the future.

In addition to the Cadence Health Office, CrossFit and Great Clips also opened up in Sugar Grove in 2014. CrossFit has experienced great success, according to Michels. The business started in a 2,000-square-foot facility, and recently moved into a 4,000-square-foot facility to accommodate its customers.

“CrossFit has a Facebook page where they post “WOD”—workouts of the day,” Michels said. “They provide an alternative to working out. They also have morning and night sessions.”

Two other notable projects for the year are centered on the new Ace Hardware that will be located on the south side of Jewel in Sugar Grove, and the new Dunkin’ Donuts that will be located north of Phillip’s 66, near Castle Bank in Sugar Grove.

The Ace Hardware, expected to open this summer, will feature a 12,000-square-foot area for the hardware store and a 4,000-square-foot space intended for pets and featuring premium pet food and supplies. Dunkin’ Donuts will also be a very welcomed addition to the community, Michels said.

“This Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t your typical Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said. “There’s only one other Dunkin Donuts with a similar floor plan, (and) that is located in Glenview (Ill.). There will be soft seating where people can enjoy bringing in their laptops to work. It’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing the architectural plan on that. They want to open before December.”

American Heartland Bank is also on the agenda for this year. The new bank will be located at Route 47 and Wheeler Road.

Michels during his village address mentioned that construction for the new roundabout at Dugan and Granart roads in Sugar Grove will begin this fall, and will hopefully be completed in the fall, as well.

As an ending note, Michels said that Sugar Grove is honored that Rich Harvest Farms, located on Dugan Road, will serve as host to the International Crown LPGA tournament in 2016. The tourney will feature teams from eight countries competing for the crown that will signify the world’s best golf nation. Each of the eight countries will be represented by four players.

Rich Harvest Farms and Sugar Grove previously hosted the LPGA’s Solheim Cup in 2009.


Library’s plant sale most successful to date

The 11th annual Elburn Town and Country Public Library’s Plant Fundraiser was held Mothers Day weekend May 9-10. The fundraiser helps fund the youth reading programs. Aiden Goecker (right), 5, of Elburn, helps his mother pick out flowers. Joan Hanson (below, left) helps visitors select plants. Photos by Lynn Logan

Funds go to support Summer Reading program
ELBURN—The Elburn Town and Country Public Library’s annual plant sale is Library Friend Joan Hansen’s favorite fundraiser.

“Everybody loves flowers,” she said. “And since (the fundraiser is) always on Mother’s Day weekend, people either buy them for their mothers or for themselves.”

The Friends’ latest plant sale took place last weekend. Hansen, who has coordinated the spring plant sale for the past 11 years, said this was the first year that people had the opportunity to pre-order on the website.

“We’re trying to keep up with the technology,” she said.
According to Hansen, the library sold 1,449 plants this year, more than they’ve sold in any previous year. Last year was the next highest number of plants sold, at 102 dozen, compared to the more than 120 dozen this year.

Although the fundraiser has been taking place for a number of years, Hansen thinks the combination of the publicity and word of mouth has helped to increase community awareness. She said the cold winter might have had something to do with it, as well.

In addition to the sale of geraniums, Gerbera daisies, begonias and more, people also had the chance to win one of three donated prizes when they purchased raffle tickets.

Prizes included a large garden bucket, filled with gardening related items, a quilt made by librarian Liz Graves, and window art by local artist Val Pieroni.

The Library Friends purchased the plants from G&E Greenhouse, a wholesale plant business located on Route 38 in Elburn. Hansen said that in addition to G&E’s tradition of quality product, she likes the idea of supporting the local businesses.

The more than $2,000 net proceeds from the sale and the $2,500 from the raffle will go to support the library’s Summer Reading program for children, youth and adults. The money will be used to purchase incentives and prizes, as well as for the end-of-summer event to acknowledge the participants.

The theme for this year’s program, which begins June 2 and runs for eight weeks, is Paws to Read. There will be books about animals, as well as prizes related to animals.

Hansen said that typically about 1,000 children and 400 adults participate in the Summer Reading program.


Play on at McNair Field

BLACKBERRY TWP.—Mya McIntire’s team, the Blue Sox, played their first game of the season at McNair Field on Sunday, thanks to the efforts of Blackberry Township to renew the lease on the field.

Mya and her father, Steve McIntire, vice president of the Elburn Youth Baseball and Softball League (EYBSL), and other league representatives attended Tuesday’s township meeting to thank township trustees for their support of the league.

The previous lease, negotiated 10 years ago between Blackberry Township and the landowner Transmission Relay Corporation, had granted local athletic leagues the use of five of the corporation’s 20 acres south and east of the intersection of Bateman and Rowe roads in exchange for a fee of $1 a year. According to township officials, the checks were never cashed.

Elburn Youth Baseball volunteers during the past 10 years had made a number of improvements to the property. Last year, they had begun the process of expanding the field’s parking lot when they received a call telling them to hold off on the expansion. It was then that the baseball organization members realized the lease had expired on April 30, 2013.

Since November of last year, township trustees have been attempting to renegotiate the lease with TRC so that the youth organization could continue using the field. The meetings were cordial, and according to Township Road Commissioner Rod Feece, landowner Lynn Limanowski was receptive to the baseball organization continuing to use the field. However, he said she was not open to the property being used for football activities.

Township Commissioner Jim Michels said they were finally able to come to terms on a one-year lease, which will expire at the end of November 2014. The agreement allows for baseball and softball, but not football, and requires the township to pay $2,600 for the use of the field for this year, which includes attorney’s fees.

Michels said that the township will begin negotiations this summer for future use of the field.


Elburn Fire District celebrates groundbreaking for new station

The Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District on Monday afternoon held the groundbreaking ceremony for its new fire station, located at the northeast corner of Route 38 and First Street in Elburn. Those wielding shovels include FGM Architects of Oak Brook Jason Estes (left to right), Assistant Fire Chief Tate Haley, Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan and Board of Trustees President Thomas Reynolds. Photo by Lynn Logan

ELBURN—Kelly Callaghan, chief of the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, presided over a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday for the district’s new station, which will be built north of Route 38 and east of First Street in Elburn. Callaghan said the new station will open in August 2015.

The three-story building will be 41,930 square feet, more than twice as large as the current building on North Street. Fire officials have said the cost of the station is estimated to be between $8 million and $10 million. The cost will be fully funded by the department without any additional taxes, as the department has anticipated the need for the new station for some time.

The North Street station will be sold, and the satellite station located at 39W950 Hughes Road, immediately outside the Mill Creek subdivision, will remain at that location.

Elburn Assistant Fire Chief Tate Haley said that the construction fence for the new building will go up next week.

Haley said the first floor will house the administration, and will also serve as a “museum” where artifacts and photos of the history of the 133-year-old district will be on display for the public to view.

The basement will include a training and meeting room that will be available to the public for its use, if necessary, as well as a fitness room.
All operations, including the ambulance station, will be centralized at the new location, with everything under one roof.

The second floor will be the residence area, with a kitchen and bunks for firefighters on duty. The department currently has six full-time firefighters during the day at Station 1 on North Street. Although there are no current plans to add people, the residence area will have the potential to house up to 15 firefighters.

Barring any unforeseen problems, the new station should have full occupancy by Sept. 15, 2015, with an open house set for Fire Protection Week in October.

Haley said the new location is more centrally located, allowing the department to better serve the municipalities in the 75-square-mile district, which includes Virgil, Lily Lake, Wasco, Campton Hills and almost all of Mill Creek, in addition to the Elburn area.

Fire equipment and vehicles will exit out onto Route 38 and return on First Street.


Softball ups and downs

Split week sees big cancer benefit
KANELAND—Kaneland softball continued its late-season stretch with some run explosions, and some community help on the side, as well.

Monday saw a trip to Ogle County and a 12-0 win in five innings over Rochelle. Saturday saw a twinbill split against the Naperville North Huskies, first losing 13-7, and coming back with a 10-7 win. Friday in Yorkville saw a 4-3 walkoff loss to the Foxes, while last Thursday had a 21-1 win over Rochelle to begin the season sweep.

In the Monday win over Rochelle, the Lady Knights (14-11, 5-3 Northern Illinois Big XII), KHS scored four in the second and five in the fourth to cinch matters. Against the DuPage Valley Conference rep Huskies, Courtney Davis got the loss in the first game, but Morgan Weber had two homers in her doubleheader time, and Lanie Callaghan also went yard.

On Friday, the Lady Knights fell behind 2-0 before coming back to take a 3-2 lead. Yorkville’s Rachael Owens tied the game with a sixth-inning homer, while Corrine Rowe ended the game in the seventh off losing pitcher Angie Morrow. Weber had two doubles, while Paige Kuefler also added a double.

Before the massive double-digit win over Rochelle, the Lady Knights and Hubs came together for their usual charity proceedings and their cancer awareness game. After collecting money all season for its “Change for Cancer” promotion throughout the 2014 season, a $200 check was provided to Dr. Perry Menini of Oncology at Cadence Cancer Center in Geneva. $200 was also donated to the family of Julia Pratte, a Kaneland softball player battling Ewing Sarcoma, as well as an additional $100 to the MadiStrong Foundation, benefiting the treatment of Madi Bettham, a Yorkville fourth-grader who’s battling cancer.

For KHS coach Brian Willis, going through his own colon cancer battle, the impact was certainly not lost.

“The day was awesome and emotional at the same time,” Willis said. “Being able to give back to others in need the same way people have given to me is an emotion that is hard to put in to words. I know the struggles people go through on a personal basis physically, emotionally, and financially during this process.”

Kaneland next heads to DeKalb on Thursday, May 15.


Rivals come together in Cougar-land

Photo: KHS softball coach Brian Willis, who is battling colon cancer, will be honored at Monday’s Pack the Park event at Fifth Third Bank Park in Geneva. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland-Batavia clash to benefit great causes
KANELAND—Area baseball teams aren’t only mindful of the postseason task ahead. They’re also willing and able to help out their fellow man.

“This annual tradition has given us an avenue to do something bigger than baseball and has allowed each of the programs involved to give back to the community,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

On Monday, May 19, at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, home of the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars, Kaneland and Batavia will do battle for a Senior Night game that will benefit three honorees.

The honorees are Harter Middle School student Drew Hahn, son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn, and dealing with Anaplastic Large-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Phil Kassinger, father of Knight baseball player Kevin Kassinger, who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer; and KHS softball coach Brian Willis, battling colon cancer.

“This year, we’ve found multiple needs in our community, and it is unfortunate that we can’t reach all the families that have been touched by this dreaded disease,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

Willis, who is scheduled for his last chemotherapy treatment the day of the game, is thankful of the proceedings.

“Thankfully I am almost done and hope I am cleared of any cancer cells left in my body,” Willis said. “Every day a new struggle starts or continues and that is who we fight for.”

Admission is $5 for adults and students, with kids under 6 able to be admitted for free. All proceeds collected will be donated to the honorees and their families.

The game is also slated to be broadcast on BATV, highschoolcube.com and the radio. Shirts will be available for purchase and multiple silent auctions will be going toward the benefit of the families, as well.

“This will be a very special night for the seniors, their parents, both baseball programs, and the people that we will be honoring,” Aversa said.

First pitch for the sophomore game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., while the varsity is slated to begin at 7 p.m. under the lights.

Visit khs.kaneland.org/content/pack-park for more details.


May days going OK for baseball

Photo: Senior catcher Sean Dunphy (above) catches a pop-up foul in the first inning against Oswego Saturday. Photos by Mary Paulson

KANELAND—Dealing with some rivalries and non-conference foes this past week, the Knights were tripped up after a close win.

On Monday, Kaneland traveled to Morris and lost 6-3. Tuesday saw the Knights lose again to Morris 4-2.

On Saturday in Maple Park against the Southwest Prairie Conference’s Oswego Panthers, the Knights fell victim to an 8-7 edging. That game was preceded by a trip to Sycamore and a 2-1 win.

Kaneland baseball now sits at a steady 14-11 clip, with a 9-5 mark in the Northern Illinois Big XII.

Facing Morris Monday, it was Nate Hopkins suffering the loss against the Redskins. On Tuesday, Curtis Thorson took the loss, but had nine strikeouts. Hammermeister went 1-1 with two RBI, while Hopkins went 1-1 with a double.

Against the visiting Panthers on Saturday, Thorson was tagged with the loss in the extra eighth inning after surrendering a run in relief.

Kaneland scored two runs in its half of the sixth to go up 7-5 before an unfortunate rally in the top of the seventh sent the game to an extra frame.

For the Knights, Tyler Carlson went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double, while teammate Austin Wheatley went 3-for-4 with a run scored. Both Danny Hammermeister and Jacob Bachio went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.

Against the familiar black-and-gold adversaries last Thursday, KHS benefited from plating a run in the top of the seventh for the difference, thanks to a Joe Panico RBI. Sean Dunphy went 2-for-3 with a double. Nick Henne earned the win to improve to 4-0, thanks to retiring four batters. Nick Stahl earned his seventh save by stifling the final two hitters for Sycamore.

“Our staff has done a nice job of keeping us in games. We have to continue to get better defensively and offensively,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We can hang with anyone in the state if we limit the errors and the extra outs that we give teams. ”

Kaneland treks to Morris for more NIB-12 action on Thursday. On Monday, May 19, Kaneland and Batavia celebrate Senior Night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, benefitting honorees whose families are battling cancer.

“I think we have a great community of former players and their families, and the connection to the community that we always make is a big draw,” Aversa said. “Plus I would like to think that Kaneland and Batavia are a couple of pretty good baseball programs, and we will both put on a good show with some good baseball. ”










Soccer holds steady

Photo: Senior captain Delaney Stryczek (13) defends the ball early in the first period against DeKalb Monday. Photo by Mary Paulson

KANELAND—Your Lady Knights soccer team, while enjoying a wildly successful 2014 regular season, has shown it can bounce back from what adversity it has faced to keep rolling along.

On Tuesday in Sycamore, the Lady Knights fell to the Lady Spartans 2-0. That was preceded by a physical 0-0 stalemate with visiting DeKalb on Monday. On Saturday, the Lady Knights fell victim to a 3-0 defeat to host St. Charles East for just the second loss of the year and ending their 13-match unbeaten streak. Last Thursday saw a 3-0 win over rival Yorkville, and May 7 had a 6-0 win at Hinckley-Big Rock.

KHS is now 13-3-2 on the season, and clinched at least a share of the Northern Illinois Big XII title at 7-1-2.

Against Sycamore, KHS suffered its first in-conference loss. Sycamore scored once in each half.

Facing the visiting Barbs, opportunities were far between in the first half of play, as sophomore keeper Emily Chapman was able to stop a free kick with roughly 15 minutes remaining in the first half.

Chapman was able to stop a scoring attempt with 35 minutes to go, and a Kaneland opportunity from Courtney Diddell curled away from the goal with traffic swallowing the ball near the box.

A rocket from Michelle Ortiz was stopped for the last good opportunity, while Chapman was able to ground a DeKalb attempt with two minutes left.

“Coach (Scott Parillo) pumped us up at halftime and got us to shoot more. I think we possessed the ball more in the second half,” Chapman said.

Being asked to do quite a bit in her first full year as starting keeper, Chapman feels there still remains a bit of work for her.

“I need to work on one-on-ones with other people. Those are kind of hard to stop,” Chapman said.

Assistant coach Kevin Bickley, who handled postgame for Parillo, knew the matchup with DeKalb would be challenging.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” Bickley said. “In past years, they were always the better team. I think we’re starting to catch them.”

Against the Saints of St. Charles East, Kaneland surrendered one goal in the first half and two in the second to experience defeat for the first time since the season opener in March to Normal West.

Facing Yorkville, Brittany Olson and Heather Ortiz found goals within 10 minutes of each other in the first half, while Holly Collingbourne iced it with 27:22 to go in the match.

In the rout of the Royals last week, Olson scored twice and Taylor Zitkus capped the first half for a 3-0 edge going into the break, while Heather Ortiz, Diddell and Paige Guyton found the net in the second half.

Ahead for the Lady Knights with the regular season concluded: filling a top-seed role in the Class 2A Rosary Regional against No. 4 Rochelle on Tuesday, May 20, at 4:30 p.m.


Solving Streamwood

Photo: Dylan Kuipers reacts after clearing 15-3.5 in the pole vault. Photo by Marshall Farthing

Knights battle through Kane Co. field for first
KANELAND—Judging by Friday evening’s Kane County Boys Track Meet held at Millennium Field in Streamwood, Ill., the Knights continued to put their stamp on this current Millennium.

The Knights, with 128 team points, were runaway winners, as Batavia’s 77 was the next closest team.

St. Charles East’s 68, West Aurora’s 67 and Burlington Central’s 67 rounded out the top five.

Geneva (60.5), St. Charles North (57), Marmion (43.5), Dundee-Crown (40) and South Elgin’s 35 completed the top 10 of the 15 point-grabbing schools.

Sprints saw a KHS presence, thanks to Dylan Nauert’s 23.30-second time and Isaac Swithers’ 24.38 effort for sixth and eighth, respectively, in the 200m dash finals.

In the 400m dash, Andrew Lesak was able to nab a sixth-place finish with a time of 52.15.

Austin Kintz was able to have a presence on distance with a 4:37.05 effort in the 1,600m run event, for eighth place.

Hurdles happenings had Nauert take second overall with a 15.27 time in the finals of the 110m challenge, followed closely by Brock Robertson’s 15.37 for fourth. Meanwhile, Robertson was able to take second at 40.54 in the 300m low hurdles, followed by Nauert’s third at 41.63.

Relay action saw the KHS group manage a second in the 4x100m event with a time of 43.67. KHS also achieved a third in the 4x200m tussle at 1:32.02.

The 4x400m foursome of Robertson, Brandon Bishop, Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter were kings of their lane with a time of 3:23.47, while the 4x800m unit of Carter, Lesak, Luis Acosta and Kucera also won their race with a clip of 8:00.64.

Bishop knew the relay roster had it in them for a memorable night.

“In the 4×100, we were in lane 7 and kind of a low rank,” Bishop said. “For three of us, it’s our senior year and we just said, ‘let’s do something special.’”

Field events also saw their share of success with Dylan Kuipers dominating the pole vault festivities at 15 feet, 3.5 inches. Teammate Dan Evers took fifth at 13-06.

Knight Ben Barnes continued his positive trajectory by becoming county champ in the long jump by mastering a 22-9.25 try.

The triple jump saw Knight Dalvell Triplett earn sixth at 42-8.25, while Barnes was close behind at 42-05 for seventh.

Kaneland’s Nate Dyer became a double champ, first by acing the shot put at 55-02, and taking discus at 153-11.

Other KHS finishers in throwing events were Alex Snyder taking second at 51-9.5 in the shot, and Shane Jorgensen taking seventh in the discus in 134-07.

KHS coach Eric Baron had his standout highlights in Upstate Eight Conference territory.

“(I thought) the pole vault, not because (Kuipers) he won, but because 15-3.5 is a big PR. Barnes in long jump broke his own school record, and the biggest surprise was Snyder getting second in shot,” Baron said.

The way the Kane County meet lands on the schedule holds importance and strategy for Kaneland.

“The way our coaches approach the season and approach May, we know it’s the most important time of the year,” Bishop said.

Ahead for the Knights: a chance to host the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference meet on Friday, May 16, beginning at 3 p.m.


Supporting one of their own

Photo: Allen Swan said he’s grateful that though his cancer has ravaged his body, it hasn’t touched his mind. “I am quite fortunate in that my mind has stayed pretty good,” he said. “There might be 58 steps you gotta go through (to repair a vehicle), and I can still go over and do all 58 on the car.” Photo by Cheryl Borrowdale

Lions Club, community come together for longtime Elburn resident
ELBURN—Allen and Lynette Swan have a file folder in which to stash incoming medical bills, since they can no longer pay them.

Lynette estimates they have $20,000 in unpaid medical bills, and more arrive every day.
“It’s very expensive to be sick,” she said. “You don’t realize it.”

Allen, who owns Valley West Automotive in Elburn, was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the lungs, liver and pancreas in January. It’s been five months since his doctor gave him an estimated six months to live, and he wants just two things: to see his oldest grandson graduate from high school in a month, and to leave his wife something.

“He’s never really complained,” Lynette said. “It is what it is, and you do what you do. We’ve just gotten to the point where we put (the bills) in a folder, and we just worry about the essential bills.”

That file folder is why the Elburn Lions Club will host a fundraiser for Allen on May 18. The benefit will be held at Elburn Lions Park, 500 Filmore St., from noon to 5 p.m., and will feature a pork roast luncheon, draft beer, a silent auction and a live auction. The duo Drift Away will perform live music, including a variety of popular rock, oldies and country songs.

Auction items include a 40-inch television donated by Country Automotive, a three-piece wrought iron patio set donated by Valley West Sandblasting, Blackhawks tickets for next season, gift certificates to Ream’s Meat Market, and many more.

Ken Gilkey, who has known Allen all his life, is co-chairing the event. He decided to approach the Lions Club about hosting a benefit when he heard from his father, Lee, that the Swans were having trouble paying their bills.

“Every moment I have with her is very precious,” Allen said of his wife, Lynette. Photo by Cheryl Borrowdale
“Every moment I have with her is very precious,” Allen said of his wife, Lynette.
Photo by Cheryl Borrowdale

“He’s done so much for the community,” Gilkey said. “The Swan family has been in town his whole life, and he’s always been one to pitch in and help the community. I don’t know what we can do as far as the bills go, but the goal is to leave something for Lynette after he’s gone.”

Tickets are $25 each, and while the Lions Club will sell a limited number of tickets at the door, the group is asking the public to buy tickets by Wednesday, May 14.

“We hope that people will buy their tickets by (May) 14 so that we have an idea of how much meat to cook,” said Kevin Poust, owner of Valley West Sandblasting and one of the event’s organizers. “There will be some fudge room for people who walk in, but we wouldn’t be able to accommodate 100 extra people.”

Tickets are for sale at Dave’s Barbershop, 132 N. Main St., Elburn; Old Second Bank, 749 N. Main St., Elburn; Hill’s Country Store, better known as the “Purple Store,” at 2S133 Harter Road, Kaneville; or by calling Cindy at Elburn Lions Park at (630) 365-6315.

Gilkey urged residents to come out and support the family.

“It’s a time to come together to support Allen financially, but more importantly, it’s a chance to pay your respects to him while he’s still here,” Gilkey said. “He’s been a fixture in the community for many years.”

Allen lived in Kaneville as a boy, then moved to Elburn with his parents in 1951, when he was in fifth grade. He’s lived in Elburn ever since—he was part of Kaneland High School’s first graduating class in 1959—and has been a Lions Club member for over 40 years.

His parents owned Swan Ford, a car dealership that served Elburn for nearly 40 years, and after it closed, Allen decided to open up his own automotive business.

Working on cars was all he ever wanted to do, he said, so much so that he was frequently sent to the principal’s office as a high school student for reading car magazines in class. That principal, Dr. John Johansen, made Allen promise to become the absolute best mechanic that Elburn had.

When Valley West Automotive opened in 1966, Johansen brought his car in for work and congratulated him.

“He came in for me to fix his car, and he said, ‘You’ve fulfilled your promise. You did what I asked.’ He was a good man,” Allen remembered. “I never forgot. That was an educator who pushed me to be the best I could be, but didn’t push me to get my Cs up to Bs. He said, ‘You know what you want to do.’”

After a lifetime of working on cars, Allen said he still loves his work.

“I’ve never woken up in the morning and said, ‘I don’t want to work,’” he said.

Though the cancer has spread into his bones and leaves him so exhausted he can hardly walk by the afternoon, Allen’s still coming into work at Valley West every morning to work on customer’s cars.

“What else am I going to do?” he laughed. “I’m going to give it a good fight. I’m doing what I can with what I’ve got.”

It’s just part of who Allen is, Gilkey said.

“Even now, knowing that he’s not going to be around, he’s got a pretty positive attitude. He’s not the type to just sit back and feel sorry for himself,” Gilkey said. “To still keep a good outlook, that’s pretty impressive.”

Allen says he’s not afraid to die—he is a devout Christian who attends Grace Fellowship Church in Troxel, and he says he knows where he’s going—but he does mind the side effects of the chemotherapy.

His medical team put him on the strongest chemotherapy drugs available, which gave him a heart attack and landed him in intensive care. The drugs have also caused him to lose his sense of taste.

“I can’t taste a pickle,” he said. “You eat to keep moving, but you don’t get to enjoy a meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It’s a bummer, it really is a bummer.”

Perhaps the hardest thing is the idea that he can’t do the things he used to.

“Pride is another hard thing to swallow. They say you got to have your walker with you all the time. I just can’t accept that. But I have to. I’m pretty good, I fumble around a little in the morning, but the afternoons, I better sit down and look out the window, because my legs won’t push me any further,” Allen said.
He’s experienced hard times before. His first wife, Dorothy, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and died from complications from the disease. A flood in 1998 left his business under 3 feet of water, causing significant damage both to the business and to the nine customer cars he had in the shop at the time. The housing market crash in 2008 hurt his business, since many of his clients were in the construction trade, and so the last several years have been lean ones.

“Half my business is supported by construction, and when the housing market went south, my big accounts went south, too,” he said. “The plumbers, the builders, they didn’t need me to fix their trucks because they weren’t using their trucks.”

And Lynette has had her own health difficulties, including a heart attack and diabetes. She always thought she’d be the first to go, she said.

Yet despite everything, Allen says he’s had a good life.

“I’ve been really fortunate,” he said. “I’ve had what I consider a good life. I have no questions that I’ve had a wonderful life, but I did not expect this to happen this quick.”

The support of friends and family has meant everything to them, Lynette said. Every day, she gets three or four phone calls from people asking how Allen is, and visitors have been dropping by the shop to see him every morning.

Some are people he’d expect—his 93-year-old mother, his brother, his old friends—and some aren’t. The outpouring of support from his customers has been especially surprising and heartening, he said.

“The support I’ve gotten, from friends I’ve had a long time and from my customers, it’s amazing,” he said. “You know, you think you know people on only a customer basis, but when they’ve been customers for 30, 40 years, you form relationships. The support has been wonderful. You could not ask for better.”

Lynette said that Elburn has been good to them.

“When he got the cancer, I’m telling you, that’s when you find out how much people love you,” she said. “We love Elburn. There is not a day that goes by that people, local people, don’t stop to see him. (Village President) Dave Anderson stops two, three times a week. We had one friend who came and shoveled our driveway all winter so we could get out and go to chemo. Boy, when you need people, and they’re there, it’s wonderful.”

People are there, Allen’s friends say, because he’s always been there for them. Gilkey said that Allen’s been like a second father to him.

“I’ve known him my whole life,” he said. “I always thought of him as a great family man. He takes care of his family, and you don’t see that all the time in today’s world. He has integrity. He’s been in business forever, and to do that, you have to keep clients forever.”

Larry Erickson, who has been friends with Allen since they played football together in high school, agreed.

“He’s a good guy,” Erickson said. “He’s a good businessman, he’s a good guy, he’s never sarcastic or nothing, and his dad was the same way.”

Erickson described Allen as a “good traveling buddy” whom he traveled with around the country, checking out stock car races and the Daytona 500, as well as a prankster who once hotwired his car for a joke.

The friends were in Milwaukee for stock car racing, and Erickson had brought his Ford Bronco.

“He came over and said it was running and was going to be out of gas,” Erickson recalled. “I was like, ‘I have the key in my hand.’ But he showed it to me, and it was running. Turns out he hotwired it for a laugh.”

But while Allen knows how to have fun, Erickson said, he has always been a family man at heart.

“(Allen’s) daughter, she’s at the top of the list,” Erickson said.

Allen has two children, Mark Swan, a salesman who lives in Chicago, and Stacey (Swan) Roach, who now lives in DeKalb, Ill., and has four sons of her own.

Those four grandsons are “the biggest part of our hearts,” Lynette said.

Alex, the oldest grandson, will graduate from DeKalb High School on June 8, and Allen has promised that he’ll be there.

“I made him a promise a couple of months ago, and I want to keep it,” he said. “My daughter said, ‘Dad, you’ve gotta keep kicking and see him graduate.’ So that’s my goal, to defy the odds and see him graduate.”

Poust urged residents to come out and support the fundraising efforts.

“Allen Swan is a past Lions Club president and a lifetime member of our club,” Poust said. “The money is to help them pay his medical expenses, and the more the merrier. I mean, he’s been a businessman in the community for his whole life, and it would be nice to see the community support him in his time of need.”