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updated: 10/28/2012 4:09 PM

DuPage club to recognize acts of police, firefighter valor

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The Hundred Club of DuPage County will recognize acts of valor by local police and firefighters Tuesday at its annual gala in Lisle.

The event marks the 30th anniversary of the nonprofit group, which gives financial assistance to families of police officers and firefighters killed, injured or otherwise stricken while living or working in DuPage.

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"They do a job we cannot do ourselves, and this is a way we show appreciation," said Lisa Savegnago, a Carol Stream business owner who's been president of the club since 2006. "We do love them dearly."

Activities begin at the Lisle/Naperville Hilton, 3003 Corporate West Drive in Lisle, with a social hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner. The main event is the presentation of Awards of Valor to police officers and firefighters for acts that go beyond the call of duty.

In the past, the organization has recognized cops who risked their lives against armed combatants and firefighters who saved people from burning buildings, said Karl Ottosen, a Naperville attorney and secretary on the club's board of directors.

Award recipients are recommended by local police and fire chief associations. Ottosen, whose firm represents police departments and fire districts across the area, said working with emergency responders outside of work and through the club "gives us a great deal of satisfaction."

"It's just kind of giving back to the organizations that help us make a living," he said.

This year's awards dinner comes as The Hundred Club tries to grow new membership through media outreach and the use of online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Aside from awards, the club offers scholarships to spouses and children of stricken police officers and firefighters. It also runs a program that gives immediate financial assistance to families of fallen responders. The program begins within 24 hours of a death and continues with ongoing assistance as families in crises try to sort out the financial impact.

"We're expending a lot of marketing efforts to get on the map and to get known throughout DuPage County," Savegnago said. "I want it to be a sustainable organization and be here for a long period of time."

Ottosen said the group has longtime supporters -- including mayors, local business owners, and police and fire administrators -- but hopes to expand its base.

"It's a 30-year organization and it's time for us to look for some additional members on the board and try to get more people involved," he said. "We just need to let people know we're out there and what we do. It's an organization worth supporting."

For more information, visit hundredclubofdupage.org.

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