For the first time since being gravely wounded in Afghanistan nearly a year ago, Marine Cpl. John Peck is back home in the Antioch area.
His family and friends -- including onetime strangers who stepped up to support him after he was wounded -- are excited to have him on local soil.
"He is a tremendous hero, and he is part of our family now," said Antioch Trustee Dennis Crosby, who has gotten to know Peck's family since the devastating injury.
Peck, who lost all four limbs in a roadside bomb attack last May, is home for one week. On Monday, he'll participate in a blood drive for LifeSource -- his mother works with the agency -- at the Antioch VFW hall. The event will double as a fundraiser for a fund created last year to assist Peck's long-term care.
Other activities are in the works, too.
A 2004 Antioch High School graduate, Peck has been hospitalized since he was wounded, most recently at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. His family drove him home in a specially equipped van, and they were escorted from the Indiana-Illinois border to the Antioch area on Tuesday by police, members of the volunteer Patriot Guard, firefighters and other supporters.
Although Crosby has spoken with Peck during his recovery, they had not met face-to-face until Tuesday.
Seeing Peck arrive home "is one of the best feelings that I've ever had in my whole life," Crosby said.
Antioch Mayor Larry Hanson isn't surprised the community has rallied around Peck.
That Peck and his family actually live in unincorporated area and not within the village limits doesn't matter to the town's populace.
"We have such a passion for anyone who serves in uniform," Hanson said. "It's the way we were brought up."
The blood drive and fundraiser are scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at the VFW hall, 75 North Ave.
So far, volunteers have raised more than $95,000 for the Cpl. John Peck Fund, Crosby said.
To contribute, you can write to the State Bank of the Lakes, 400 Lake St., Antioch, IL, 60002.