Hoffman Estates nurse wins Get Your Summer On contest
Penny Kroes of Hoffman Estates, a nurse at Alexian Brothers Hospital in Elk Grove Village, is the winner of the 2019 Daily Herald Get Your Summer On contest. She and her significant other, Craig, an independent contractor truck driver, will soon have a beautifully landscaped and appointed backyard with a firepit surrounded by comfortable chairs and a dining area because they have won an outdoor furniture/landscaping/party package valued at more than $11,000.
"I had an aboveground pool with stones surrounding the pool. The pool fell down and shortly after, I was diagnosed with cancer," Kroes wrote when entering the Daily Herald's annual contest. "I was able to beat my cancer with the support of my family. Unfortunately, my backyard suffered. I would love to have a backyard to entertain my family."
Penny has lived in her home for 29 years and about half of that time has been tumultuous. Her dad was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. Soon after his diagnosis came one of lymphoma for Penny. She underwent seven months of chemotherapy and survived.
But that was not the end of the family cancer news. Her mother got a cancer diagnosis and survived. Her brother got the dreadful news, too, but did not survive.
And now her significant other, Craig, is suffering the cancer fate, too.
"I just paid off the house and then heard that I won this contest," she related, "so I thought that things were finally turning around. But then I had to put Craig into the hospital, too."
"Throughout all of the turmoil in my life, I have seen my yard as my peaceful place -- the place where I can escape and clear my mind while pulling weeds," Penny explained. "It is my piece of paradise, but the place in the center of the yard where I once had an aboveground pool is truly an eyesore."
"I have been a caregiver for people for many years, so I couldn't go far from my responsibilities to relax," the Muskegon, Michigan, native continued. "And I have never won anything! Not even a $2 scratch-off (lottery) ticket. So this is unbelievable! It will be so fun to look out in my half-acre backyard and see something attractive."
"I am also really excited about the grilling class. I don't know how to grill and Craig is no longer able to do it, so I am really excited to learn," Penny added.
Kroes' prize package includes:
• $2,500 landscape package from Land Escapes Inc., which includes design consultation, materials and labor.
• Seven-piece Fold & Store dining set with cushions and cover from Lurvey Garden Center (valued at $1,299).
• Four lounge chairs with cushions and firepit from Northwest Metalcraft (valued at $4,100).
• $2,500 private Weber Grill Academy class in her backyard for an interactive dining experience with a chef providing recipes, cooking lessons and dinner for up to 20 guests.
• $100 Binny's Beverage Depot gift card.
• $100 Jewel Osco gift card.
• $200 gift card from Lurvey Garden Center.
The second-place winners are Hope and Ron Sohn, whose junior high school-age daughter, Alexa, entered the contest on the of Arlington Heights family's behalf.
"I have two hardworking parents and a sister in college. When my parents come home, they are exhausted, especially my mom because she teaches middle school (oy)," Alexa wrote. "We want to relax together but when we look outside, we just see blah. In the end, we all go into our rooms and relax alone. My backyard is not pretty, comfortable or a place I want anyone seeing."
In order to help remedy the situation, the Sohns won a teak table and chair set, valued at $1,000, from Northwest Metalcraft in Arlington Heights.
"We are very excited because we have never won anything," Sohn stated. "We haven't done anything to the outside of our home because we have been spending our time and money renovating the interior of our home since we moved in 18 years ago."
"Now that we are getting such a beautiful dining set, I think that we will probably stain the deck to make it look nicer," she continued, "and then maybe have a party out there once we have the table."
Hope teaches junior high and Ron is a senior business analyst.
Finally, Tim Edwards of Des Plaines won the third prize of colorful, vintage-look metal chairs and an occasional table worth $500 from Northwest Metalcraft.
"We really would like to spruce up our patio since buying our house three years ago," Edwards wrote when entering the contest. "We'd be grateful for any help!"