Good News Sunday: How a Des Plaines resident's own experience inspired her to found Cards for Hospitalized Kids

Good News Sunday: How a Des Plaines resident's own experience inspired her to found Cards for Hospitalized Kids

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

As a child, Jen Rubino had to endure multiple hospital stays and treatments, which ultimately led to more than 20 surgeries, the worst being major hip reconstructive surgery at Lurie Children's Hospital at age 15.

The surgery required that surgeons break Rubino's hip in five places and then reconstruct and reposition it.

"It is a very rare surgery," Rubino said, "and very painful. I spent four or five days in the ICU and then about another week in the hospital," followed by months of rehabilitation and physical therapy.

She felt sad and isolated thinking about the things she was missing.

"I received a handmade card from a volunteer and it really made my day," said Rubino, who grew up in Des Plaines. "It was a small act of kindness that someone is thinking about you, encouraging you."

This small act inspired Rubino to start her own charity, Cards for Hospitalized Kids, when she was just 16 and a student at Maine South High School.

"It started out really small," Rubino said, "but then it just took off."

She teamed up with the Des Plaines Public Library and Maine South to host monthly card-making events. Soon enough, the community and other libraries and schools across Illinois also hosted events.

Today, Rubino said more than 500,000 cards have been distributed to hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses across the country.

For the full story, click here.

Gurnee resident Layne Pollard is planning an epic adventure for his 60th birthday. He and daughter Jorie will be scaling the 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro. In this 2019 photo, Layne and Jorie are enjoying the Grand Tetons. Courtesy of Layne Pollard

Gurnee man, daughter climb Mount Kilimanjaro for his 60th birthday

Gurnee resident Layne Pollard and his daughter, Jorie, are on the trek of a lifetime.

The hike to the 19,341-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania was planned as an epic trip for Pollard's 60th birthday on June 16. But there's more to it.

Inspiration, determination, time of the year (June to October is the dry season around Kilimanjaro), a sense of adventure and a desire to celebrate a milestone event in a memorable way all contributed to the decision.

Their trip up the mountain was scheduled to begin Sunday, June 11. He and Jorie expected to be on the final hours of the descent on his birthday June 16 and back in Gurnee two days later for Father's Day.

Earlier this month, Pollard celebrated his 10th anniversary as the franchisee of a Central Bark doggy day care in Gurnee. Before that, he was in product development for a watch business.

Conditions permitting, he'll be updating their progress on Central Bark Gurnee Facebook and Instagram pages. "Conquering Kilimanjaro," a post on the company blog, explains the background.

"It's really just a hard hike. Thousands of people do it every year," he said of the Kilimanjaro ascent. He said he's prepared for shifting terrain, potential subzero cold, snow at any time and strong winds. "The biggest thing is altitude."

For the full story, click here.

Ted Pappas of Western Springs is a contestant on season two of "The Great American Recipe." It premieres June 19 on WTTW. Courtesy of PBS

Western Springs home chef brings local flavor to PBS cooking show

Season two of "The Great American Recipe" premieres Monday, June 19, on PBS, and Ted Pappas, a semiretired architect from Western Springs, is one of the cooks chosen to reflect the breadth of diversity in American home cooking.

Each episode, hosted by Alejandra Ramos, challenges the cooks to showcase two of their beloved signature dishes as they compete to win the national search for "The Great American Recipe."

Pappas grew up in a traditional Greek American household headed by immigrants: a first-generation father and a third-generation mother. His grandfather owned a supper club in Chicago in the 1960s, where Ted's mother worked. She passed down happy memories of entertaining at the club, instilling a love of social gatherings centered around food in her son.

Pappas, whose cuisine reflects his family's deep Greek roots, says he's proud to represent Greek Americans, Chicagoland and the Midwest on the show.

"It was a very cool experience so far, with more fun stuff to come this summer."

For the full story, click here.

• Good News Sunday will run each weekend. Please visit to sign up for our Good News Sunday newsletter.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.