After soldier Bryan Anderson lost both legs and his left hand to a bomb in Iraq in October 2005, he was overwhelmed by the goodwill of volunteers who physically and financially rebuilt his family's Rolling Meadows home to make it accessible for him.
The first thought that came to him was to wonder what he could do to give back some of what he'd been given.
Contact information ( * required )
Since then, the energetic veteran has been working for a number of charitable foundations, including running one of his own.
And on Thursday, he was the keynote speaker at Schaumburg's Volunteer of the Year Awards Luncheon.
"I really appreciate being able to do something close to home," said Anderson, who no longer considers his circumstances in any way tragic. "I may be a triple amputee, but I can still do everything -- everything I want to do."
In addition to recognizing the work of 28 nominees, Schaumburg presented awards to three outstanding individuals and one organization.
Teri Dudasik received the village's adult individual award for starting the parent and young adult support group PASSAGE for families affected by Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.
The infrastructure and resources Dudasik and later volunteers helped build was determined to be so valuable that the Alexian Brothers Autism Resource Center took over running them through its own newly formed group, ASD Life Transitions.
There were both high school and junior high categories for this year's Youth Volunteer Award.
Sania Zaffar, a senior at Schaumburg High School, won in the older category for her four years of tireless volunteerism. Her efforts have included shaving her head for a St. Baldrick's fundraiser as a sophomore, running virtually every student council event as a junior and leading both the council and National Honor Society as a senior.
Amanda Mytych, a student at Frost Junior High, won in her age category for her accomplishments on the Frost Interact Club, which focuses on service near and far, her coaching of various Special Olympics teams and work with an organization aimed at ending negative attitudes toward people with disabilities.
The Schaumburg Professional Firefighters Association was the Volunteer Organization of the Year.
The not-for-profit run by Schaumburg firefighters had one of its most successful years in 2013. Through various fundraisers, the group donated more than $7,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, $25,000 to the Loyola Burn Center, $5,000 to the Schaumburg Township Food Pantry, $10,000 to the Alexian Brothers Foundation, $11,000 to the American Cancer Society and $5,000 toward Christmas shopping for local families in need.
Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson said the village wouldn't be the great place to live and work that it is without the efforts of everyone nominated.
"Schaumburg is built on the back of volunteers," he said.