Editorial: Inspiring suburban kids an antidote to our trying times

  • Through Fall 5K Run/Walks in Bartlett, Sycamore Trails School sixth-grader Aidan Hennessy has helped raise nearly $100,000 for Play for Peace.

    Through Fall 5K Run/Walks in Bartlett, Sycamore Trails School sixth-grader Aidan Hennessy has helped raise nearly $100,000 for Play for Peace. Courtesy of Lisa Hennessy

 
Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 10/3/2018 9:30 AM

A once-beloved sitcom star headed to prison in handcuffs last Tuesday to serve time for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman.

A Supreme Court nominee and a college professor accusing him of sexual assault testified for hours Thursday in a hearing that riveted, polarized and saddened the nation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A televised Illinois gubernatorial debate one week earlier blasted through rounds of name-calling that left us discouraged.

The past two weeks have been trying, to say the least. But at the same time, there have been stories that may have gotten lost in the ugliness of bigger, bolder headlines.

So let us reintroduce you to a few of the inspiring kids we have interviewed over the past several weeks. Consider their stories counterprogramming to the ugliness -- and their giving spirits an antidote to our polarized political times.

First, there's Aidan Hennessy. When he was just 6, he wanted to donate $100 to help other kids. This past weekend, the Sycamore Trails Elementary School sixth-grader hosted his sixth Fall 5K Run/Walk in Bartlett benefiting the nonprofit Play for Peace, which helps children in communities affected by gang violence and supports education. He expects to raise $23,000 this year.

Inspiring, right? He's not alone.

Zack DeLuca, 13, also helps the less fortunate. Through his Hoops for Homeless program, the Arlington Heights teen gives basketball lessons for a fee that he donates to JOURNEYS-The Road Home in Palatine. So far, he's donated more than $500.

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Megan Bugg, meanwhile, turned an advanced cancer diagnosis at age 13 into an opportunity to help others. Now 17, she has raised more than $100,000 through Lurie Children's Circle of Friends program to support ongoing childhood cancer research, created a clothing line that donates a portion of its proceeds to the cause and supports other young cancer patients at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield.

Then there's Justin Lorenz, a senior at Jacobs High School. More than 60 kids and teens in the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dundee Township received their own bikes last month as a result of the 17-year-old's Pedal Empowerment organization.

No, we can't hide from news stories that distress us. We can't -- and shouldn't -- turn away from coverage of Bill Cosby's sentencing, the divided Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and candidates who would rather trash opponents than talk policy. But sometimes, we can set aside the pessimism these stories evoke by thinking of Aidan, Zack, Megan, Justin and so many others.

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