Despite troubling news, there's plenty to inspire

Updated 6/8/2014 4:28 PM

It was a very newsy Page 1 on Thursday.

But the news wasn't exactly uplifting: an interview with an angry stepdad of a Bartlett soldier killed perhaps while trying to find Bowe Bergdahl; the continuing mystery of the jockey who died two years ago in a Long Grove garage fire; and the revelation that Barrington students -- elementary school students -- escaped harm when some adults stopped the kids from hanging by their shirt collars on bathroom-stall hooks, apparently as part of a game.


Overriding all this, though, are other stories, not necessarily happy ones, that have been downright inspirational. At the risk of using a worn-out cliché, they've involved triumph of the human spirit. My favorite examples:

• Marie Wilson's Page 1 story in today's editions about the 20 University of Illinois students biking 4,000 miles coast-to-coast in 71 days. That alone is darned impressive, but even more so is the reason for the trip: Raising money and awareness to fight cancer. Every one of the riders has some connection to the disease, and each had to pledge to raise at least $3,500 before leaving.

• Some Saturday editions carried staff writer Safiya Merchant's story of Jan White, whose daughter, Summer White Lynch of Bloomingdale, has terminal cancer. When asked what people can do, White doesn't give a standard answer: "I said, 'You know what you could do? You could do something for a random stranger in the name of my daughter. And that would just really mean something while she's alive, not after she (has) passed."

• One of the suburbs' most successful individuals, Arlington International Racecourse boss Richard Duchossois, revealed to staff writer Melissa Silverberg in Friday's paper that the lessons he learned on the battlefields of Europe while serving under Gen. George S. Patton still apply today. The 92-year-old Duchossois made the trip to Europe to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

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And two stories I've mentioned in my past two columns have had some nice consequences.

• We wrote about the Bianca Huerta, who became an unflinching family caregiver as a younger sister suffered through an ultimately fatal disease. Her mom, Brandy, won two Facebook contests and was able to provide Bianca with her dream quinceanera last Saturday. Here's what Brandy posted afterward on Facebook: "What a magical night. My baby sparkled in every way possible, inside and out. She makes me so very proud. Everything seemed like a beautiful dream. From making the front page of the Daily Herald, (Thank you, Lenore Adkins), to the beautiful steps she took as she danced the night away."

• After writing about the courage of Joel and Patti Clousing, a Wheaton couple who bared their souls sharing the story of their 19-year-old son Keenan's fatal struggle with heroin, I received a note. It was from a woman who said she was addicted to pain medication but was renewing her effort to stay clean because the Clousings' story gave her new hope. As a reminder, she cut Keenan's poem, "Hope," from the paper and carries it with her.

I passed the note along to Patti Clousing, who relayed there's been an outpouring of support since the story ran. And true to the unselfish way the Clousings view life, Patti offered to help us with future stories.

Here's my take-away: We're all in this together.

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