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Quinn lauds MVCC for work with veterans

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  For Joann Jenkins, Moraine Valley Community College’s director of student services, helping veterans transition from combat to higher education is essential to veteran PAGE-5-2-col-MVCC 2Moraine Valley’s Joann Jenkins and General McArthur, III accept the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education. Senator Dick Durbin’s congratulatory letter was presented at the March 19 Board Meeting. Photo by Kevin Coyne.student success. Getting to know the veteran personally is equally as important.
  “Not all veterans are the same just because they identify with a certain group,” Jenkins said. “We have the resources and support from the college to get to know our veterans and we make sure we’re there to make the transition back to higher education as smooth as possible.”
  Moraine Valley is the third community college to win the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education since Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Higher Education Veterans Service Act in 2009. Usually the award is given to four-year colleges and universities but this year Moraine’s commitment to veteran services didn’t go unrecognized.
  Previous winners include Eastern Illinois University, College of DuPage, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University and Southwestern Illinois College.
  “Our student veterans are a very tight knit community and veterans are coming here because of word-of-mouth,” Jenkins said at the March 19 board meeting. “We constantly get calls and emails from veterans in Afghanistan who tell us they’re about to finish their deployment and they’re ready to start college.”
  Not only has Gov. Quinn recognized the Palos Hill-based community college for their service to veterans, Senator Dick Durbin sent a congratulatory letter praising Moraine for “tireless commitment to the education of our nation’s veterans … you are helping to better the lives of those who risked their own for our country.”
  Last month, Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs director Erica Borggren presented the award to Moraine president Sylvia Jenkins. College faculty, staff, student veterans and community members attended the event, including Moraine trustee Tom Cunningham, who has two servicemen in his family.
  “Their military service is nothing to be taken for granted and it’s great to see that veterans are coming home and finally getting their due,” Cunningham said. “We’re able to do what we do because of what they do for us.”
  Both Jenkins and student success and veterans affairs coordinator General McArthur, III have worked to create an innovative veterans orientation program, veterans resource center, priority registration for veterans and veteran benefit workshops.
  Moraine has over 500 student veterans, some who travel over an hour to campus due to Moraine’s veteran services. Starting in April, Moraine will offer veterans a virtual veterans center designed to help veterans understand their benefits, course selections and other veteran-specific material.
  “There is a certain respect that service members carry themselves,” Jenkins said. “You have to respect when they put on that uniform they have such a reverence and respect for what they do. They served their country and we’re here to serve them by making their transition as smooth as possible.”

Second March4Meg run rolls on Saturday

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Meg Moonan lost her battle to melanoma two years ago, but the Evergreen Park resident’s life will be recalled Saturday during the second March4Meg 5K run.
  The run was conceived by Moonan’s mother, Nancy Donovan, who embarked on a personal mission to help find for a cure for the disease.
  The run will step off at 9 a.m. from Klein Park (known as Circle Park) at 97th Street and Homan Avenue in Evergreen Park. Registration is $30 or $65 for families.
  Organizers are looking forward to a significant turnout following the success of last year’s inaugural event, which drew approximately 1,600 participants and raised $30,000 for the Meg Moonan Endowment Center at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
  “We’ve been successful because of all our volunteers and participants and because people are realizing the serious nature of melanoma, whether it’s impacting them directly or a family member or friend,” Donovan said. “Meg would have wanted us to make this our responsibility to alert others.”
  Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton and his wife, Karen, are the honorary chairs of the event.
  “While the first event was spectacular because of the turnout, any follow-up event is a challenge because the originality is gone,” Sexton said. “However, the mission is not, and that’s why Karen and I are supporting this event and imploring everyone to as well.”
  Donovan and her family didn’t know what to expect when they organized the first March4Meg. The goal was simply to raise awareness of the deadly skin cancer and establish an endowment center in Meg’s name.
  Organizers anticipate more participants than last year and encourage people to arrive early to take advantage of free skin checks and entertainment. Race-day registration will be available from 7 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
  Moonan left behind her husband, Ken, and four young children. Her mother rallied the extended family to the emotional rescue of Ken and the children by filling in as baby sitters, housekeepers and shoppers, she said.
  “We were all under such cloud I knew we had to do something to get us out of this dark place,” Donovan said.
  In addition to establishing the event, Donovan has increased awareness with demonstrations at summer camps and schools, instructing children on the importance of sunscreen and wearing correct clothing when playing in the sun.

  Donovan also want to raise awareness for a disease that impacts those 15 to 29 years old more than does any other type of cancer.
  Race director Meredith McGuffage hopes others who have been victimized by melanoma will find solace in the event by participating individually or as a group.
  For example, the Barry and Dinneen families lost Lucy Dinneen Barry to melanoma earlier this year and have used the grieving period to establish Team Lucy, which will participate in the race. The Beverly native and Naperville resident died Feb. 1 after a four-month battle with melanoma.

IndyCar driver highlights Children’s Hospital’s Diabetes Fair

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball won his firstPage-7-2-col-fairThere were plenty of people, booths and displays at the Advocate Children’s Hospital’s Diabetes Fair on Thursday. Photo by Jeff Vorva. race on that circuit on Aug. 4 when he won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
He made a history with the victory. He became the first licensed driver with diabetes to win an IndyCar race.
Kimball is generous his time and getting his message out to the masses. A few weeks before starting up the 2015 with the Streets of St. Petersburg race on March 30, he was in Oak Lawn last Thursday as a special guest of the Advocate Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Diabetes Fair. He signed autographs and gave a talk in the hospital’s auditorium.
According to a hospital release, diabetes is a chronic disease that already affects more than 200,000 children in the United States. Physicians at Advocate Children’s Page-7-2-col-racer-and-friendsRacer Charle Kimball and members of his staff were on hand during the fair talking to fans and handing out autographs. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Hospital anticipate that by 2020 the diabetes rate among children under age 5 in certain populations will be double what it was in 2000.
“We treat a variety of endocrinological disorders, including growth, puberal, and thyroid disorders, but, by and large, 50 percent of our pediatric population has diabetes, and 80 percent of this group are being treated for pediatric type 1 diabetes,” said Vidhya Viswanathan, MD, pediatric endocrinologist, at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn. “For type 1 diabetes patients, the pancreas doesn’t make any insulin; for these children, insulin is a lifesaving medication.”
Diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels, resulting from defects in the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. The condition, if left untreated, can lead to other health complications, even death. However, once the disease is diagnosed, physicians specializing in pediatric endocrinology typically work with parents and children to develop a proper treatment plan.
The fair also offered free body-mass-index screenings; blood testing; the latest information on insulin pumps, blood glucose monitoring meters and diabetes camps, refreshments and giveaways.

Breakfast, lunch and beyond:New CoCo’s open for dinner

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 The New CoCo’s Restaurant is open and the PAGE-10-2-col-ownersKenny, Lu and Imo Asani have reopened CoCo’s Restaurant in Hickory Hills. Photo by Jeff Vorva.owners say they’re ready to offer family dining at reasonable prices in an area lacking that feature.
  The Hickory Hills restaurant, 9505 S. Roberts Road, reopened on March 5, nearly one year after the previous owners closed the doors.
  Kenny and Lu Asani, the restaurant’s new owners, believe they’ve made the necessary changes to make the restaurant a huge success.
  The duo is not short on experience.
  “I grew up in the restaurant business with my dad,” Lu Asani said.
  Kenny also came up in kitchen, working with family in all aspects of the food business since arriving from Macedonia.
  Kenny’s brother, Imo, and brother-in-law, Jimmy, also are involved in the day-to-day operation of the restaurant.
  The new owners did little to alter the appearance of the eatery other than to make some small changes to the entrance. A new pie case was added to display the restaurant’s wide variety of desserts.
  “We get a lot of compliments,” Lu Asani said.
  So far, the restaurant’s greatest challenge is to spread the word that it’s open for dinner until 10 p.m. The original CoCo’s Restaurant closed at 4 p.m.
  “It’s slowly progressing,” Lu Asani said. “I still get a lot of feedback from people who say, ‘I didn’t even you know you were open for dinner.’”
  The dinner menu is varied, featuring a wide selection of Greek cuisine, seafood, stir fry, steaks and chops and Italian dishes.
  Dinner selections come with homemade soup or salad, potato and rolls and dessert. Many dishes are less than $10, as the owners strive to offer affordable dining to community.
  Numerous club and croissant sandwiches, wraps, salads, burgers and hot sandwiches also are available for lunch and dinner.
  CoCo’s also serves an extensive breakfast menu for every appetite.
  Pancakes, toast or biscuits and gravy are served with every egg dish.
  The breakfast menu also features Belgian waffles, crepes and numerous varieties of French toast, including red velvet, banana nut and cherry kijafa. Eggs benedict, omelets and skillet dishes round out the breakfast menu, which is served all day.
  The owners are hoping that the unique menu selections coupled with affordable prices will set them apart from the competition.
  “We have some dishes that are not offered at other restaurants around here,” Lu Asani said.
  CoCo’s is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and carry-out is available. The restaurant seats 220 people in three dining areas, which can easily accommodate large parties. For information, call 708- 634-2051.

Shorn begorrah, locks are lost at Advocate’s St. Baldrick’s Day

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

There were more than 60 people who were scheduled to get more than just a haircut on Saturday morning in Oak Lawn.
Men, women and children lined up for Advocate PAGE-1-COLOR-1-COL-and-PAGE-4-2-col-Mary-2Palos Heights’ Mary Butler shows off a hunk of hair that was cut off during the St. Baldrick fundraising event at Advocate Children’s Hospital. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Children’s Hospital’s St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser with money going to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
The fundraiser shows solidarity with children who lose their hair while undergoing treatment for cancer. Participants on Saturday had already raised more than $27,000 in support of St. Baldrick’s. Since the St. Baldrick’s Foundation was formed in 2005, the annual program has raised more than $100 million in childhood cancer research grants nationwide, according to a news release.
For 2 ½ hours people from all over the Chicago area came to the event with hair and left bald and it was all for a good cause.