Hundreds of community leaders and residents gathered on Saturday to honor the best of Arlington Heights during the annual Hearts of Gold awards dinner.
"This is the night that defines Arlington Heights, the village that truly is a family," said Village President Arlene Mulder, who also called the event "the Academy Awards of Arlington Heights."
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The night started a little out of order, honoring Young Champion honoree Emma Hogaboom first because the senior at St. Viator had to also hurry to perform in the school's production of "Beauty and the Beast" later that night.
"My parents taught me the saying, 'To one who much has been given, much is expected," Hogaboom said about her many volunteer efforts with her church, school and other organizations.
Father Bill Zavaski was honored with the Mentor Heart of Gold -- and an extended standing ovation -- for his years as pastor at St. James Catholic Church.
"I never thought of myself as a mentor," said Zavaski who will retire in July. "For the past 18 years I have been so blessed to lead this parish."
While most honorees took several minutes to thank family and friends in the community, Good Neighbor Heart of Gold Honoree Don Green had only five words for the crowd -- "Thank you all very much."
Special events Commissioner Paula Ulreich, who introduced Green, said she was glad she even got the quiet winner to say that much. Ulreich said that when she first called the 82-year-old volunteer he told her to go on to the second place winner instead.
Though modest about his award, Green has had a big impact on the people around him in the Kaspar Avenue neighborhood, according to the people who nominated him. Green helps his neighbors shovel snow, cut their grass and even takes his 93-year-old next door neighbor to her doctors appointments and helps her plant flowers.
For Educator Heart of Gold Honoree Lyn Scolaro, Saturday night was a moment to thank every student and family who has come into her life over her 31 years as a teacher.
"I love school. It's difficult to call it work because it's who I am," said Scolaro, who teaches Italian at Prospect High School and has led several clubs, study trips to Italy and helped create the first Italian Adanved Placement exam.
Working with young people has also been a life's work for Young at Heart honoree Carl Laub who has been involved with Boy Scouts of America for more than 40 years.
While Laub never made money from his years volunteering, he said that every time a young man became and Eagle Scout it was payment enough.
After spending a lifetime as a teacher and a bus driver in the community, it was just one lifesaving minute that led to Rick Abbott being awarded the Heroic Heart of Gold award, well seven minutes actually.
For seven minutes Abbott gave CPR to his friend Gary Dykes who collapsed during a bike ride.
Dykes was pronounced dead at the hospital before being revived and making a full recovery. He joined Abbott on the stage Saturday night.
"I got off my bike and I started praying, counting and pushing on his chest," Abbott remembered. "When I see Gary laughing and enjoying his family, that's the real reward."
For their work in the Arlington Heights community and around the world, Ron and Diane Crawford were honored as Volunteer Heart of Gold winners.
The Crawfords have been instrumental in building Ak'Tenamit, as school for Mayan children in Guatemala, as well as volunteering at St. James Catholic Church.
Arlington Heights spent much of 2012 celebrating the village's 125 birthday, and the main organizer of that celebration, Lauree Harp, was honored Saturday with the Community Spirit Heart of Gold.
"If I'm here for community spirit then I'm here representing all of you because you are the spirit of this community," Harp said.
Helen Jensen, former nurse and trustee was honored with the Community Service Heart of Gold and Jim Inman of Elite Athletic Development/CrossFit Arlington Heights was honored with the Business Leader Heart of Gold.
The night ended with another of many moments honoring Mulder who will retire when her term ends in April after 20 years as mayor.
"This is the best place to live, and it's because of you," Mulder said thanking the crowd and her husband. "You make this community, every single one of you."