Lester: Beloit man carves path through suburbs to Wrigley in wheelchair

Four years after he lost the his right leg in an auto accident, his father to Alzheimer's disease and his mother to cancer, Dennis Schulze is taking an unlikely journey to prove there is good in the world.

Schulze, a lifelong, die-hard Cubs fan, is traveling by wheelchair from his hometown of Beloit, Wisconsin, all the way to Wrigley Field on a trip that began Dec. 16 and is expected to wrap up Friday. The former semitrailer truck driver says he modeled the path after the driving routes along Northwest Highway he came to know well.

When I caught up with Schulze Tuesday, he was moving past the Lattof YMCA in Des Plaines. He said he hoped to reach Chicago by tonight and planned to discard his wheelchair and walk the last half mile to Wrigley on prosthetics.

<h3 class="leadin">'Nothing but help'

The 115-mile winter trek is raising money for a number of charities, including the March of Dimes and Wounded Warrior Project.

Schulze says he's been helped by various suburban police departments that have escorted him for part of the route, as well as good Samaritans who have offered him help along the way. At night, he's been housed by churches, including First United Methodist Church in Woodstock.

His longtime friend Joan Sohn has traveled behind him the entire way with the flashers in her car on, just to make sure he's safe.

"The whole point of this stuff is there's always bad stuff in the news," Schulze says. "I've had nothing but people wanting to help me, day in, day out. I've had nothing but a great journey, and I want it to end on a good note."

To follow Schulze's trip, or to donate, visit

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President-elect Donald Trump talks to media as he and Vice President-elect Mike Pence arrive at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in November. Associated Press

'Hearing Trump's vision'

Major Republican donors in Illinois might have voted for President-elect Donald Trump, but their money hasn't followed into his war chest as it has for past candidates, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The tide could be beginning to change, thanks to a visit to Chicago on Friday by Vice President-Elect Mike Pence that's being organized by Wheaton resident and GOP fundraiser Lisa Wagner, who developed deep ties over the years with Republican officials in Indiana, Pence's home state.

"Pence didn't come to Illinois during the campaign," says Wagner, who tells me she had a week to organize the 11 a.m. Chicago Club event, after the Republican National Committee called and told her Pence was available. "He's been around Donald Trump in a way few others have, and this is an opportunity for people to hear about his vision and what it's like."

The event's host committee includes GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton and Illinois GOP Chair Tim Schneider of Bartlett. Tickets start at $2,700 per person and go as high as $33,400 per couple who sign up as co-chairs.

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Democrat Susana Mendoza speaks to supporters after being sworn into office as Illinois comptroller at the state Capitol. Associated Press Photo

Checks expected

Illinois schools that have been waiting on state money for transportation, special education and bilingual classes are finally expected to get checks this week, Abdon Pallasch, spokesman for Comptroller Susana Mendoza tells me. Elgin Area Unit District 46 is waiting on $19.8 million. Maine Township District 207 is owed $1 million from the last fiscal year, Grayslake District 46 is owed $926,000 and West Chicago District 33 is waiting on $450,000.

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The Volo Auto Museum will be the focus of a new History Channel Reality TV series, set to debut this spring. Courtesy of Volo Auto Museum

In the spotlight

The Volo Auto museum is the focus of a new reality series on the History Channel. Volo museum director Brian Grams says filming is "well under way" for the first series of the season set to debut this spring, the theme based on the "treasure-hunt" aspect of the 57-year old museum and how it operates. He hints that the first episode will feature Volo's find of a 1967 Shelby convertible - considered by many to be the world's rarest automobile.

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Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski, center, heads to the end zone on a 52-yard punt return after getting past North Carolina punter David in this 2006 file photo. Zbikowski is now a Chicago firefighter. Associated Press

Giving thanks

Former Notre Dame great and Arlington Heights resident Tommy Zbikowski was among the Chicago firefighters given a "celebration party" in recent weeks by the families of the young people whose lives he helped save last April, including one he learned had attended his sports training camps years earlier. In April, Zbikowski responded to a fire in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood where people were trapped in a third-floor apartment. Zbikowski rescued Beau Zanca, 23, who he later found out attended Zbikowski's speed camps in Palatine for young athletes. Zanca, a Prospect High School graduate, spent months recovering from serious burns at the Cook County Trauma and Burn Unit in Chicago.

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The last of the area's toboggan runs is closed, but only temporarily, its owner says. File photo

Toboggan closure temporary

Some good news for area toboggan enthusiasts, who read here last week that the last of the area's runs at Steitz's Resort in Antioch was closed temporarily. "We are not shutting down for good," John Steitz III said via text message, though he did not elaborate on exactly when the run would reopen. The Antioch resort, which bills itself as having the "oldest registered toboggan slide in the state of Illinois" stemming back to 1940, has begun in recent days running a recorded voicemail message alerting customers that the slide - which shoots across the ice on Bluff Lake - is "not going to operate" this winter.

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