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updated: 12/24/2013 7:11 AM

Editorial: Inspiration is catching -- pass it on

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  • Roy and Georgette Frank greet guests as they arrive at the Hearts Of Valor Ball.

    Roy and Georgette Frank greet guests as they arrive at the Hearts Of Valor Ball.
    Courtesy of Barbara Matsukes

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

On the fourth Monday of every month in 2013, we set aside our Neighbor sections to introduce you to people who have dedicated large parts of their lives to something larger than themselves.

You've met people who walk to raise money to fight cancer, a man who has dedicated his life to creating more opportunities for autistic children and young adults, a family committed to eradicating pulmonary fibrosis and many more.

We dubbed the series "Caring in action" -- suburbanites and suburban-based groups dedicated to eradicating a wrong or a disease, or improving the lives of their fellow men, women and children.

Their good works and achievements may seem daunting, but the object in profiling people who are passionate about a cause isn't to make the rest of us feel bad. It's to make us feel inspired.

And for almost all of the people profiled in "Caring in action," there is personal inspiration behind their dedication.

In January 2013, we met Roy and Georgette Frank, whose son Lance Cpl. Phillip Frank died in Iraq in 2004. Numbed by the loss, they nevertheless did what many Gold Star parents do -- channel their grief into something tangible.

"We literally had no idea what we were going to do," Roy Frank told us. "We wanted to improve the lives of military personnel, but we had no experience. We thought, hopefully, situations would arise that would help us focus."

Almost 10 years later, the Heart of a Marine Foundation is still providing "comfort, support, financial assistance and additional resources" to improve the quality of life of military personnel and veterans in all branches of the armed forces.

In February, we met the Hayes family of Cary, for whom their young son's retinitis pigmentosa led them into a fight to improve the lives of every victim of the disease.

Later in the year, we were introduced to Mike Baker, a volunteer with the Schaumburg Autism Society. Baker, like others in the group, was disturbed by the lack of educational and training opportunities for autistic children and young adults like his own son, and he has become a relentless advocate.

Last November, Heather Savoca D'Amico wrote the heartbreaking story of her father's death from pulmonary fibrosis. On the day of his diagnosis, she and her sisters decided to increase awareness and raise money to support organizations dedicated to finding a cure. The result was the Michael P. Savoca Memorial Foundation.

These are people who don't take tragedy lying down. None of them is famous. Most have no background in community organizing or fundraising. They learn as they go, and they never give up.

In 2013 we profiled 12. But there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of suburbanites who have similar stories. We'd like to hear some of them. If you know of someone we should consider profiling in 2014, email us at

After all, a little inspiration can go a long way.

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