• Written by Bob Rakow

Thanks to therapy, OL’s Sorley bowls and plays golf less than one year after suffering brain injury

 Leigh Shea recalls her early encounters with Richard Sorley.

 Sorley is an Oak Lawn resident whoPage-1-2-col-sorleyOak Lawn’s Richard Sorley laughs it up with staff members at Advocate Christ Medical Center Sept. 18 before being honored as a Rehabber of the Year. Photo by Jeff Vorva. underwent brain surgery last October at Christ Medical Center after a fall led to a subdural hematoma.
Following the surgery, Sorley began to work with a team of therapists at the hospital, including Shea.
 “We worked with him on quite a few different things,” said Shea, a speech therapist at the hospital.
Initially, Sorley, 80, had trouble with a variety of functions, including swallowing, walking, staying alert, memory and staying awake.
But steady improvement came as Sorley put in several weeks of hard work with Shea and the other therapists.
Cardiac complications interrupted Sorley’s therapy, but didn’t dampen his spirit, his therapists said. He resumed therapy as soon as he could and made significant progress.
The man who initially needed two people to help him stand eventually was walking 125 feet with a walker, climbing stairs and shaving.
He’s an example of what this program can do for people,” Shea said.
Sorley’s hard work and dedication were evident each day at therapy sessions, Shea said. “He just really pushed himself,” she said.
Physical therapist Alex Ramos concurred.
“It started very slow,” said Ramos, who recalled early sessions comprised of little more than sitting exercises.
But Sorely made steady progress.
“Every time he came in here, he looked better. He worked hard. There was never a question of motivation.” Ramos said.
One year later, Sorley is bowling—he recently rolled a 72—golfing and walking with only the aid of a cane.
“The turnaround he made is just tremendous,” Shea said. “He just wowed us.”
Sorley was one of six Christ Medical Center patients honored recently as a Rehabber of the Year.
The annual ceremony also recognized a child who sustained multiple injuries in a motor vehicle crash that killed one of her parents, a 17-year-old hockey and soccer player who overcame a traumatic brain injury and a firefighter who suffered a stroke while responding to a fire call. 
“It’s our favorite day of the year,” said Shea, who told Sorley’s story to an auditorium full of therapists, physicians, nurses and hospital staff.
Sorley was hesitant to talk about his road back, but credited his team of rehabilitation specialists for helping him get there.
“These people did a marvelous job,” Sorley said. “I can’t say enough about how much they put into their work.”
He also thanked his wife, Loraine, for “sticking with me” throughout his rehabilitation.
“He is a new man,” Shea said.


Unsweet 16 for schools

  • Written by Tim Hadac

 SB 16 impact could be devastating for area education funds

Proposed legislation working its way through the Illinois General Assembly will, if passed, result in damaging and potentially devastating financial losses for Stagg, Sandburg and Andrew High Schools, Consolidated High School District 230 board members were told at its meeting last week.
Plus, schools from other districts in the area could feel the punch as well.
Senate Bill 16, already passed by the State Senate and soon to be considered by the House of Representatives, will alter the formula used to distribute state education funds in such a way that downstate districts, as well as Chicago, will see annual increases, but suburban districts will be unfairly squeezed, said Hickory Hills resident Debbie Chafee.
Page-1-2-col-color-langertDistrict 230 Assistant Superintendent Steve Langert said that the proposed Senate Bill 16 is “confusing” and “misguided. Photo by Jeff Vorva.“This is a very serious issue,” said Chafee, a mother of two children attending schools in the North Palos District 117. “This bill does not add any more money to what the state currently provides for education. Instead, it re-distributes the money, so the small pie that’s there gets sliced in a different way—and the suburban school districts will take a very significant hit, if this legislation is passed as is.”
Chafee said an Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) analysis shows that District 230 will lose up to $7 million a year in state funding under the proposed plan. Combined with its public-school feeder districts, local school will lose up to $23 million a year, Chafee told the board.
“For North Palos, that’s a loss of 14 percent of our budget, which will mean cutting a large portion of our staff,” Chafee continued. “So on top of what you guys would be feeling [in District 230], the reality is, the kids that coming into your school district are not going to be as prepared as we’ve been able to prepare them in the past.”
The analysis can be found on the ISBE website, as well as on the home page of, the website that of Everyone Deserves a Great Education in Illinois, an ad hoc group formed to sound the alarm about SB 16 and rally voters to oppose the measure.
Chafee added that with no new state funding, the change in the current funding formula results in “pitting school districts against each other, and that results in winners and losers.”
Dems vs. GOP

Political support for SB 16 has mostly fallen along partisan lines, with support from Chicago and downstate Democrats and opposition from suburban Republicans—although Chafee noted that 18th District State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat whose district includes a number of suburbs, broke ranks to vote against the measure.
SB 16’s primary sponsor is State Senator Andy Munar, a freshman Democrat from Central Illinois and teacher by training.


  • Written by Jeff Vorva

OL resident set to open haunted house at old lumber yard

Terror and bloodshed are packingPage-1-2-and-a-half-col-left-photoOak Lawn’s Justin Cerniuk puts the finishing touches on his haunted house, which opens tonight, Thursday at the old Beatty’s Lumber Company site in Oak Lawn. Submitted photos.Page-1-2-and-a-half-col-terror-right-photo their bags and moving from the yard to the lumber yard.
Well, actually a former lumber yard.
Starting tonight, Thursday, Oak Lawn resident Justin Cerniuk debuts his most ambitious Midnight Terror horror show yet.
At 7 p.m., his staff will creak open the doors at the former Beatty Lumber Company property at 95th Street and 52nd Avenue for a sophisticated horror show in Oak Lawn.
Cerniuk is 24 and got his start in the art of trying to scare people around Halloween in 2000, when he just turned 10 and it was a gore-gone conclusion that it would become bigger and better.
He started this project in his own front lawn and from then, with the help of his uncle, Robert Page, moved things into a garage. He started to build props and characters and meshed metal with technology to create his own garage of mayhem.
“When I was little, my uncle used to take me to some really good decorated houses in the area, where I got a lot of ideas,” said Cerniuk in a news release.
Midnight Terror became a weekly staple until 2007, when he joined the Marines and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He returned home in 2011 and the Terror was back in town.
Last year, the yard and garage featured 28 custom animatronics, 12 volunteer actors and eight rooms. He said more than 6,000 people came to get scared at his haunt and he received some donations, some of which went to the Autism Society of Illinois.
Now he is taking his act to the lumber yard and he has the village’s blessing.
Oak Lawn Trustee Tim Desmond and other village officials aided Cerniuk in finding the right available property and Beatty’s, which has been closed since 2010.
Since the closing, village officials have been trying to figure out what to do with that area. Some developers have pitched the idea for a 9-to-13 story office tower. There was talk a senior center could move in there.
For October, it will serve as a haunted house.
“My goal is for everyone to have fun and enjoy a collaborative experience where our scare team and our visitors feed off of each other’s energy and excitement,” said Cerniuk. “I want to bring back this haunted house every year, bigger and better than ever. I envision this as an exclusive Oak Lawn attraction. This is where I started 14 years ago. This is where I have roots, and I want to remain loyal to my home town.”
Tickets can be purchased online at or at the box office on site. Admission per person is $10 but there is a no-wait R.I.P. pass available for $17. Discounts for large groups are also available. The attraction is wheelchair accessible.
The haunted house is open from 7 to 10 p.m. tonight as well at Sunday, Oct. 9, 12, 16, 19, 22, 23, 26, 29 and 30. It is open from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Oct. 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 and Nov. 1.
Patrons can park for free inside the nearby Metra parking garage at 9525 S. Tulley Ave.
To purchase tickets in advance, get a coupon worth $2 off admission on select dates, or for more information, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Madigan addresses ‘fastest growing problem’

  • Written by Tim Hadac

Attorney General talks about ID theft in Oak Lawn

  For all men and women in the Southwest Suburbs, damaging and potentially devastating identity theft is not a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Monday.

  “What I can tell you is this: identity theft not a new problem, but it is one of the fastest growing problems that we’re seeing,” Madigan said to an audience of about 40 civic and elected leaders, law enforcement and other public safety officials, and representatives of financial institutions. The presentation by Madigan and her staff was made at the Oak Lawn Public Library.
  Madigan said that in 2006, she established an identity theft unit, “a group of people who are really experts at how to prevent this, how to help [victims] clean up. So far, we’ve helped over 35,000 people in the state remove over $26 million in fraudulent charges from their credit. So that just gives you a sense of what’s taking place.”
  The attorney general said that some of the increase has been driven by high-profile security breaches at major retailers.
  “There was the Target breach that occurred right around the holiday shopping season, but right after that, it was Michaels, Neiman-Marcus, and then now, seriously, we hear about a new breach every single week,” she added. “Just last week, it was reported in the news that Home Depot finally confirmed that it was 56 million people’s credit card numbers had been [stolen] in the breach they suffered.”
  Madigan offered her four top pieces of advice to reduce the risk of identity theft.
  • Put transaction alerts on credit and debit cards, which will “let you know [via text message] if someone else has used your card,” she said. “Now, I know that can be a little annoying, because in this day and age, many of us are using our credit and debit cards 10 or 12 times a day. But you won’t be annoyed when you’re sitting in your local library and you get a text message that says that someone is at Best Buy, and they just bought a flat-screen TV in your name. What you’ll do is take out your credit card, find the toll-free number on the back, call your credit card company and say, ‘We have a problem here,’” and that way, you’ll be able to resolve that problem quickly.”
  • Read bank account and credit card statements, promptly and line by line, every month—more frequently for those who bank online. “You need to make sure all the charges are accurate and that all the numbers add up,” Madigan told the group. “If there’s a problem, you call that 800 number quickly and get it resolved right away.”
  • Obtain and examine copies of personal credit reports, which is especially important, Madigan said, to detect identity theft that might not otherwise be detected early. “Sometimes you don’t find out that someone has damaged your credit until you yourself go to use it,” she observed. You go to rent an apartment, you go to finance a car purchase, you go to get a mortgage—and you’re either denied because it looks as though you don’t pay your bills, or when they extend you credit, it will be at a higher rate than it should be.” She encouraged everyone to visit online to obtain a free credit report.

Riley’s plans to close after 77 years of trickery

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

  After 77 years, including 40 in Worth and one in Palos Hills, the business commonly known as Riley’s Trick Shop will disappear.

  On Monday, officials from the store posted that the longtime business will close its doors.
  “This is it!’’ the post said. “After 77 years, Riley’s Trick Shop will be closing its doors for the final time. We haven’t set a date yet. That will be determined by how long it takes to sell down our inventory at greatly reduced prices...up to 90 percent off.
  “Since all our children have good jobs and no interest in taking over (we) have decided to move on. We’d like to see what it’s like to have a weekend together and maybe take a trip or two. It’s been a long time.
  “Thanks to everyone for 77 great years. We hope to see you all at least one more time before we head off into our new adventure.’’
  Jim Riley, his son, also named Jim, and wife Judy run the shop, located at 8086 W. 111th St. in Palos Hills.
  Riley’s father opened for business in Chicago in 1937 and moved it to Worth in 1973.
  The new store in Palos Hills was renamed Riley’s Tricks and Gifts and emphasized its selection of birthday and gag gifts. It stopped selling Halloween costumes, according to a Reporter story in April 2013 and the new store was half the size of the old store, which was 5,000 square feet.
  “It’s going to be a lot of work,” Riley said at the time. “We’ve got to move everything into a smaller space and try not to kill each other, because we’re family. It’s not going to be easy.’’