DeJesus brightens day of Christ patients

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


  Cubs outfielder David DeJesus DOUBLERUN-COLOR-3-col-Dejesus-1Fifteen-month-old Gunnar VanCleave of Seneca gets up close with Cubs outfielder David DeJesus last Thursday at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.slammed into a wall to try to make a catch in New York in June and his body paid the price as he suffered a sprained shoulder and missed 33 games and returned in late July.

  So when he stopped by the Advocate Christ Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn last Thursday, he knew of what some of the patients were going through.
  “I just kept the faith,” he said in a room featuring several young patients. “I know that I can rely on my trainers and rely on the guys who have knowledge to help me get better. Time will heal all wounds and everyone here has their own struggles going on. But you have to believe that there is healing in the world and everything will be OK if you keep that positive mentality.’’
  On a lighter note, he encouraged long-suffering Cubs fans to keep the faith as well. The Cubs have gone more than 100 years without a World Series title and since Theo Epstein took over as the Cubs president, the team has been subpar in 2012 and 2013 and gutted in order to rebuild with young players.
Douelberun-color-3-col-dejesus-2David DeJesus shakes hands with Hickory Hills’ Mike Henderson while his parents Janet and Jeffrey, look on.  “It’s going to happen sooner than later,” DeJesus said. “I think Theo and the new management team are on the right program. They are building from within the minor leagues. A lot of young guys are coming up together. When they come into the major leagues they will have that camaraderie. Sprinkle in a couple of guys who are veterans to keep them right and I think it’s going to happen sooner than later.”
  Having a major league ballplayer show up changes the climate of the day at the hospital.
  “[It] really brightens the day of our pediatric patients,” Dr. George Harris, a pediatrician at the hospital said in a news release. “It’s great to have the kids interacting with these professional athletes and seeing the smiles on their faces.”
  That included Hickory Hills’ Mike Henderson, who was able to meet DeJesus hours before having surgery performed.
  He admitted to DeJesus he was more of a Sox fan than a Cubs fan but still looked thrilled to be able to spend a few minutes with a professional athlete.
  After visiting with some of the younger patients, DeJesus made a trip to the adult surgical heart unit to pay a surprise visit to die-hard Cubs fan Carmen Murphy of Addison.
  The two talked baseball for awhile and Murphy said “I saw your father play with the Cubs.”
  DeJesus had to politely tell Murphy that former Cub Ivan DeJesus was not his father and people tell him that all the time.
  “I’m just a kid from Jersey,”doublerun-2-col-dejesus3Jennifer Murphy, David DeJesus, Carmen Murphy and Alexa Murphy pose Thursday at Christ Hospital. Carmen Murphy of Addison is a die-hard Cubs fan who underwent heart surgery and was surprised by DeJesus’s visit. he said. “I’m not related to Ivan although my dad did know him in college.”
  DeJesus asked Murphy what he thought of the Cubs and Murphy said “They are going in the right direction.”
  In the future, Cubs players will be visiting another Advocate hospital later in the month in Park Ridge.


Caught in the action?


double-run-3-col-carl  Palos Heights Channel 4 cameraman Carl Germann looks like he is in the middle of the action after a Blackhawks postseason goal.

  Germann was taking crowd shots from the stage at the Incarnation gym during the Stanley Cup’s appearance last Wednesday in front of a big-screen television.

Photo by Jeff Vorva


Hometown man dies in OL park

  The body of a 56-year-old Hometown man was discovered Tuesday morning near a park bench in Lewandowski Park near 89th Street and 49th Court, according to police.
  Oak Lawn police officers and paramedics responding to the report of an unresponsive man in the park behind Fairplay Foods discovered the man at 8:48 a.m., police said.
  No signs of foul play were evident, and Oak Lawn police Division Chief Thomas Simon said it appears the man had been out walking or exercising before his death.
  The man’s body was transported to the Cook County medical examiner’s office at about 11 a.m. that morning. Jamie Giller, an investigator with the examiner’s office, said results from the autopsy were scheduled to be complete around 2 p.m. July 31.

Richards counselor’s son dies after being rescued from drowning in lake

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


  Richards High School Guidance Counselor John Kocher is looking for some memories and stories.DOUBLE-RUN-COLOR-3-col-RichardssignPhoto by Jeff Vorva The marquee at Richards High School in Oak Lawn expresses the community’s support to the Kocher family Tuesday. Counselor John Kocher’s son, Matt, died Saturday after being pulled from Lake Michigan.

  His 15-year-old son, Matt, died Saturday afternoon from what appeared to be a drowning accident in Lake Michigan near New Buffalo, Mich., and during a prayer service for the family at St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Orland Hills Monday night, he spoke to the crowd of hundreds and sought other perspectives from mourners on his son’s life.
  “Matt’s in a better place,” he said. “Please let us hear your relationship with Matt. We would love to hear that. If you don’t want to talk to us, go on Facebook. Go on any of those other Twitters or whatever.
  “There is so much about Matt...we had him for 15 years and I couldn’t dream of a better kid. Please remember us in your prayers and let us know the story of Matt and always keep him in your heart and keep us in your heart.”
  The wake will be from 2 to 9 p.m. today, Thursday, at Sheehy and Sons Funeral Home, 9000 W. 151st St., in Orland Park. A funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. at Seton Church, 9300 W. 167th St., in Orland Hills.
  The Kocher family lives in Tinley Park and Matt attended Andrew High School, but he was also part of the Richards High School community. Matt volunteered for the school’s Special Olympics events for 10 years, according to news reports.
  Matt, who completed his freshman year in May, was an honors student and three-sport athlete who played football, basketball and volleyball.
  He was swimming at the New Buffalo City Beach on Saturday and lifeguards entered the water at 3:30 p.m. to assist Matt, who was in distress, according to news reports. He was rescued and transported to a hospital in Michigan City, Ind. and airlifted to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead at 8:21 p.m. Police said that waves reached as high as five feet that day and red flags indicating high risk for swimming were present.
  He was the second person to die in Lake Michigan on Saturday and reportedly the 17th to die in the lake since June 6.
  Classmate Danny Walsh said at the prayer service that Matt was the “kid with the smile on his face” and Stephanie Rivera said on Facebook “He could light up any room with that smile.”
  Seton pastor Rev. William Corcoran — formerly of St. Linus church in Oak Lawn — said he did not know Matt but was impressed with the hundreds of friends who showed up for the prayer service.
  “We celebrate what true friendship is like tonight,” he said. “We rely on each other to see us through a dark day.”


Nugent rocks the Ridge at the Fest

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  Ted Nugent, the right-wing rocker, is knownCOLOR--Ridgefest-03Chicago Ridge enlisted the help of legendary rock guitarist and wild front-man Ted Nugent to draw a crowd at RidgeFest 2013 on Saturday. Nugent’s show consisted of his famous rock anthems, right-wing political views and some colorful comments about President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and his dealings with U.S. lawmakers. for shredding on his Gibson guitar, original impromptu banter between songs and reassuring his followers that he’s still the same outspoken Motor City Madman.

  On Saturday RidgeFest was seemingly empty until around 8 p.m. — just before “The Nuge” took the stage.
  Nugent made plenty of politically-based comments on stage, including a reference to punishing drunk drivers and an accusation regarding Attorney General Eric Holder running guns to Mexico.

  Nugent closed his set with a statement encouraging concert-goers to rally against President Barack Obama, stating “Defy the president of the United States. He’s a criminal.”
  Secretary of State Jesse White made an appearance earlier in the day, bringing with him the high-flying and immensely talented Jesse White Tumbling Team. RidgeFest’s management team appeared to be taken by surprise as the secretary of state and his group of tumblers began to set up for the performance.
  “We’re having trouble with the music playing and trouble getting a microphone,” White said. “It’s been Murphy’s Law today. Other than that we enjoy performing here and it’s a great event.”
  After a few snags the group of 15 tumblers dazzled the audience while rock group Badd Penny ironically covered the Foo Fighters hit, “Learn to Fly.”
Ridgefest-01Cali Nebel, 3, of Oak Lawn rides an illuminated dragon through the darkness of night.  Volunteers from the Boy Scouts Troop 665, Men’s Club, American Legion, Our Lady of the Ridge Parish, Chicago Ridge Little League, and Illinois Patriot Guard manned various stations at the fest.
  “I’ve lived in Chicago Ridge my whole life and I’ve been coming to RidgeFest or volunteering here for over 20 years,” said Chicago Ridge Little League President Ron Dryier. “RidgeFest brings the community together and it’s a family atmosphere, which is great for the kids.”
  For Gold Star Father and Illinois Patriot Guard Donald Pannier, RidgeFest is just one of the 90 events a traveling wall of valor will visit to represent the brave men and women from Illinois who made the ultimate sacrifice. As a Gold Star Father, Pannier knows all too well the consequences of war. In January 2008 Pannier’s son, 20-year-old Army Spc. Phillip J. Pannier died of wounds sustained during combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Samarra, Iraq.
  “The wall has over 300 men and women from Illinois who died while serving in the military,” Pannier said. “This wall is to respect and honor those who died and for their family, friends, classmates and battle-buddies. We hope when people walk away they never forget the cost of freedom.”
  In addition to volunteers and local non-profits various Ridgefest-02Gerald Droos (left) and Paul Johnson get into the groove during Ted Nugent’s performance.vendors used RidgeFest to promote their companies and sell merchandise. For Mark and Wendy Stasukewicz, owners of Orland Park-based sportswear store, Nebbia-USA, RidgeFest was an opportunity to get their company’s name in front of the public.
  “Chicago Ridge treated us very well and this is a great venue to get our name out there,” Mark said. “We’ve only been open for six months so coming out to fests like RidgeFest helps increase our in-person sales and we’ve already seen an increase in online sales after attending various summer festivals.”