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Article posted: 5/10/2012 4:58 PM

Schaumburg woman's memory honored in music

By Eric Peterson

Allison Zak's passion for music is continuing to help other students pursue their own musical callings, six weeks after the 19-year-old Schaumburg woman's death at Illinois State University.

Zak died in her dorm room March 22 from an undiagnosed seizure disorder. More than $11,000 in donations given in her name since is helping the band programs at three schools she attended -- ISU and Hoffman Estates' Conant High School and Lincoln Prairie Elementary School.

"We thought it was kind of nice," said Allison's father, Michael Zak. "During this time of unspeakable grief, our hearts were lifted by the generosity of so many."

While the family had asked for donations to both the ISU marching band and the Conant High School Band Parents Club in lieu of any other type of memorial, some simply donated cash without either band specifically identified.

The family used the donations to nearly even up the amounts between the two bands. To date, ISU's Big Red Marching Machine has received $5,040 and the Conant Band Parents Club $5,015.

Among the ways the bands will use this money is scholarships for members, Michael Zak said. Conant's band recently renamed its annual scholarship in honor of Allison.

In addition, a $1,000 donation was made to Lincoln Prairie's music program, in which Allison first learned to play the clarinet, her father said.

The Zak family is still working through their grieving process, particularly Allison's two younger sisters, Michael said.

Allison's seizure disorder was found to be related to her Crouzon syndrome -- a condition that manifests itself with multiple brain and skull abnormalities. Her father said her prior health issues gave no indication of her seizure disorder.

An autopsy revealed that she'd recently suffered minor strokes as a result of the disorder, which had been undetected by everyone, including herself, Michael Zak said.

Allison was majoring in both German and Japanese at ISU and was planning to use one or both languages professionally, probably in the public sector.

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