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updated: 7/30/2012 5:35 PM

Restaurant owner, teacher co-author book on learning disabilities

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  • Kathy Young and Eileen Gold Kushner are co-authors of book Smart On The Inside-A True Story About Succeeding In Spite of Learning Disabilities

      Kathy Young and Eileen Gold Kushner are co-authors of book Smart On The Inside-A True Story About Succeeding In Spite of Learning Disabilities

Dorothy Weinberg

"Smart On The Inside-A True Story About Succeeding In Spite of Learning Disabilities," published by Round Table Companies in Highland Park, Ill., tells of Eileen Gold Kushner's comeback story from academic problems due to learning disabilities to success as owner of three Chicago area McDonald's restaurants.

Kathy Young, a special education teacher, interviewed her to write the book as a first person account of Kushner's inspirational life story. The printed book can be purchased on and and the digital book is available through Kindle, Nook and iBooks.

Eileen Gold Kushner was not diagnosed with learning disabilities until she was 39 years old. Throughout her school years, she struggled with reading and mathematics and was repeatedly told by teachers that she wasn't trying hard enough and wouldn't amount to anything. It wasn't until she was a married woman with three children that she finally learned that she had dyslexia, which is a language-based learning disability that is characterized by slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, and weak writing skills. Discovering the reason for her learning difficulties helped her realize that she had many abilities and strengths. Now, one of her goals is to promote the understanding of learning disabilities.

On Oct. 12, Young and Kushner will be speaking at the Illinois Branch of the Illinois Dyslexia Association Fall Conference in Northlake, IL. On Feb. 13 they will be speaking at the International Learning Disabilities Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Their presentation is entitled Smart on the Inside: Helping Your Children Reach Their Full Potential. Both Kushner and Young are residents of Chicago's northwest suburbs.

Kushner has worked for McDonald's for 37 years, starting as a crew person, making milk shakes and French fries. She graduated to a cashier, but did so with trepidation until her husband, Larry, taught her how to make change. From there, the sky was the limit, and she and her husband purchased a McDonald's franchise in Bridgeview, IL. For the past 27 years, the Kushners have been franchise owners. They now own three franchises, one in Buffalo Grove and two in Palatine.

The book conveys a strong message of having a positive attitude, working hard, never giving up, and giving back to the community. A portion of all book sales will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Kushner received the Ray Kroc Award, given to store owners for local store marketing efforts and community involvement. She also received the Illinois Association of Chambers of Commerce award that recognizes Illinois citizens for outstanding contributions.

Kushner met Young in 1994, when one of Young's special education students called the businesswoman and asked her to speak to Young's class. Kushner talked, not only about her struggles with learning disabilities, she also told the students how to be successful in the working world and the importance of social skills and work ethic. For the past 14 years, her McDonald's restaurants regularly display Learning Strategies bulletin boards created by Young's students with information about celebrities with learning disabilities who achieved success and how important it is to capitalize on personal strengths.

Young's students and Kushner have collaborated on many fundraisers. The students organized and ran events at the McDonalds restaurant to raise money to buy clothes for needy children and to support people with medical issues.

To book Kushner and Young as speakers or for an interview, send an email to:

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