Aurora and its first responders honored during Reflejos 'Reflecting Excellence' event
Aurora was recognized for its commitment to community and its first responders were honored for their diligence and courage Wednesday during Reflejos' 8th annual Reflecting Excellence ceremony at Stonegate Conference and Banquet Centre in Hoffman Estates.
The awards reflect efforts by the winners to promote diversity.
Aurora police officers and firefighters were recognized for their response to the Feb. 15 shooting at the Henry Pratt Company that claimed the lives of five employees and injured six officers. The shooter was also killed.
Flanked by police officers and firefighters, Aurora spokesman Clayton Muhammad accepted the award recalling that tragic day nine months ago that no community wants to experience but that far too many have endured.
The strength Aurora drew upon that day continues to sustain the community, said Muhammad, who praised the city's first responders as the finest in the country, adding they are among the factors that resulted in Aurora being named the "number one city in America to live the American dream."
Other honorees included the late Ron Raglin, Elgin Area School District U-46 assistant superintendent of educational support programs and alignment, who championed equity in education and social justice. Raglin died of a heart attack in August 2019.
Friend and colleague Tony Sanders, U-46 CEO, described Raglin as "a driving force of equity in our region" who served the district faithfully for seven years.
Among his accomplishments was a program designed to help B and C students improve enough to enroll in advanced placement classes, Sanders said, adding under Raglin's guidance, the program expanded from 900 students to more than 2,000 students.
Raglin's dream was "for every student to know we care about them through our actions," he said.
No one should "depart this world without knowing how much we love them," Sanders said. "That was Ron's gift to us."
In his keynote speech, actor/director Nate Santana, of NBC's "Chicago Med" and an ensemble member of Teatro Vista and Shattered Globe theaters, shared life lessons from his acting training. He urged attendees, which included eight suburban scholarship recipients, to recognize the value of hard work, resist attempts at typecasting and accept who you are "and refuse to apologize for it," he said.
"There is nothing outside of you that is going to create your own happiness. It comes from within yourself," he said.
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List of honorees
The following individuals and organizations were honored for their efforts on promoting the benefits of diversity during Reflejos' 8th annual Reflecting Excellence awards ceremony Wednesday in Hoffman Estates.
Making a Difference within the Community
International Salsa Congress
City of Aurora
Aurora Police Department
Coalition for a Healthy & Safe Elgin
Lake County United Way
Outstanding Community Colleges
Elgin Community College
Oakton Community College
Joliet Junior College
McHenry County College
Waubonsee Community College
College of DuPage
Maria Elena Jonas
Kenneth Young Center
Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project
Food for Greater Elgin
Mexican Cultural Center DuPage
Gail Borden Public Library District
Barrington Area Library
Waukegan Public Library
Palatine Public Library District
Indian Trails Public Library District
Schaumburg Township Library