Jan 29, 2010
Do you know where Puget Sound is? Or even what it is??? Aaron Cvengros does! The 11-year-old boy is autistic and just won his schools Geography Bee in Beach Park. I read the remarkable story this morning at the Lake County News-Sun.
Tina Johansson reports that Cvengros spelled out his answers on a letter board. Here's what the Principal and his Mom had to say:
Check out the full News-Sun article by Tina Johansson: Autistic youngster wins first place in geography bee
"By winning this competition, a public statement was made that goes to show that just because of autism, you are still capable," said Principal Browne, adding that one out of every 150 children has been diagnosed with autism.
"It's an encouraging story," said Aaron's mom. "Not too many special-needs families get encouraging words. And this is hopeful because it shows that all things are possible."
And for those of you still questioning "Puget Sound"...we head to Wikipedia!
Jan 27, 2010
A soldier from the Chicago area lost his vision when serving in Iraq. But he’s not letting his blindness hold him back. He’s inspiring people across the country with his drive, determination and his gym shoes.
Steve Baskis, 23, attempted the Chicago Marathon this October with his best friend and his brother by his side. Just 18 months before the race, a roadside bomb took his vision and left pieces of shrapnel in his leg.
"Some people probably think, 'he shouldn't do this or that' and they don't give me a chance," says Baskis. "But if I can go run 26.2 miles or do a half iron man with a swim, a bike and a run, I feel like I’m normal. And I am normal, I just don’t feel injured. I don’t feel like I’m blind. And it feels good to do that stuff."
And he's been doing a lot of it with his second chance at life. He completed a half iron man, climbed a volcano in Mexico and even made it halfway through the marathon. I was really impressed with that, but to him, halfway wasn't good enough. He's now training harder than ever to try and conquer his goals.
He's come a long way since the day his life changed: May 13, 2008.
"It hit the right side of the vehicle, the EFP, and it went through the door and it killed my buddy instantly. Basically cut him in half really,” recalls Baskis. Victor Cota, who was like a Dad to Baskis while in Iraq, died instantly. Baskis suffered a laundry list of injuries.
The shrapnel hit both his legs and arms, his neck and the side of his head. One piece went right through his temple and ruptured both of his eyes. He would never see again.
Baskis spent months recovering in several different hospitals. “They came in and told me I pretty much may be blind for the rest of my life. It was easy and hard at the same time. I’ve been like this since I woke up. What hurt me the most was my buddy Victor died. I didn’t know he died until I got back to Walter Reid and I woke up. More than my injuries and anything else, that hurt a lot," Baskis remembers.
"I guess the first week was the hardest. But from there on it was like I had a second chance. Don’t take anything for granted. Move forward drive forward,” he says. With countless surgeries, physical therapy sessions and the support of family and friends, he got back on his feet. “I was making the therapist run me around Walter Reid so I was holding her arm and we were running around Walter Reid because I was trying to build my leg up. I was laying in bed and my right leg was injured and I wanted to be able to walk. I’m blind, I better be able to walk.”
He learned to walk again. And how to live in the dark. It hasn't been easy, but everday, he pushes himself further. And everyday he inspires more people.
“Don’t get me wrong, I may seem happy, and I am. I get frustrated though just as much as anyone else," says Baskis. "It's just, hey I’m blind and I have to live with it. And you are either down in the ditches and you hate life and you wanna die, and I’ve met plenty of guys like that, or you move on and you try to live a good life. And that’s all I’m trying to do. Until the day I die I’ll live a good life and do the things I wanna do. I’m no different than the person I was before I was blind. I’m still Steve, I’m just blind Steve.”
Steve is currently training for a spot on the 2012 Paralympic Cycling Team. He also plans to take on the Chicago Marathon again next year.
Steve is also featured in an upcoming documentary about going blind. You can find out more at GoingBlindMovie.com
Photographer: Jordan Arseneau
Reporter/Editor: Sarah Jindra
About a year ago, Carson Pazdan began collecting recipes from other kids to create a cookbook for beginners. With his mom's help, he got about 800 recipes (including some from adults like Oprah)! They decided to donate 100% of the proceeds from "Kids Feeding Kids Cookbook" to the Northern Illinois Foodbank. The foodbank accepted a check Tuesday for more than $20,000. You can check out more from several different media outlets that covered the story:
Pioneer Press photos
Story on NBC5
Daily Herald story
Click here for information on how to get the "Kids Feeding Kids" Cookbook!
Jan 21, 2010
"So that's what's sad about not eating. The loss of dining, not the loss of food. It may be personal, but for, unless I'm alone, it doesn't involve dinner if it doesn't involve talking. The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments and shared memories I miss. Sentences beginning with the words, "Remember that time?" I ran in crowds where anyone was likely to break out in a poetry recitation at any time. Me too. But not me anymore. So yes, it's sad. Maybe that's why I enjoy this blog. You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now."
Click below to read Roger Ebert's full blog post:
Nil By Mouth
Jan 20, 2010
The Beacon-News has a great story about a nurse who donated her kidney to a security guard at Delnor Hospital in Geneva.
Merri Lazenby made the offer while eating lunch with Ray Andrade, and she ended up being a match.
It makes me wonder how many people would be willing to step up and do something like that for a stranger. How lucky for Andrade that there are people like Merri Lazenby out there! Would you be willing to donate a kidney to a stranger???
Check out the full story by Matt Brennan at the link below:
Nurse Donates Kidney to Hospital Guard
Jan 11, 2010
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my new site! I thought I'd use my very first blog post to share why I decided to create INSPIREme Chicago.
To be honest, I just got sick of hearing about crappy people and all the crappy things they do. Yeah, I said crappy;) While watching the news, I'd find myself staring at the TV saying, "Really?!? What is wrong with people?" All the murderers and corrupt politicians depress me! I'm tired of hearing about them and about people like them. Don't get me wrong, I know there's a need for reporters to be out there covering these stories. Sometimes, I just need a break from it all.
I want to be inspired by the people around me, not depressed. Surely there are people in the Chicago area who have morals. Surely there are people doing positive things in their communities. So my new mission is to find them! I want to be inspired, so INSPIRE ME CHICAGO!! ...get it now? ;)
So in my free time, I'll find people or groups doing positive things and share their stories with you. I'll also share the "good news" stories that I see in the local media. The site can be your home for "Good News Only"! If you have any story ideas, please send them my way. Meantime, join me on Facebook and Twitter and help spread the good news!
Jan 1, 2010
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If you're tired of hearing about all the bad news in your community, INSPIREme Chicago is the place for you! Former television journalist, Sarah Jindra, launched the site in January of 2010 to highlight all of the positive news stories throughout the Chicago area.
ABOUT THE FOUNDER, SARAH JINDRA