Good News Sunday: Navy veteran to ride 2,500 miles for wounded military

  • Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling with Noah Currier, founder of Oscar Mike Foundation, which uses adaptive sports to get injured veterans "On-The-Move" again.

    Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling with Noah Currier, founder of Oscar Mike Foundation, which uses adaptive sports to get injured veterans "On-The-Move" again. Courtesy of Tracy Sefcik

 
 
Posted5/16/2021 7:30 AM

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

"Tough" is one word we'd use to describe Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling.

 

In 2018, the Navy veteran rode her bike cross country, from San Diego, California, to St. Augustine, Florida, as a fundraiser for the Gary Sinise Foundation, a charity and service organization that offers programs, services and events for wounded military veterans.

Along the way, she camped by the side of the road, was chased by dogs, and dealt with health issues.

She had a brain tumor at the base of her spinal column. And as if that wasn't bad enough, she also was dealing with asthma and epilepsy.

She said she didn't really think about it until she was lying on the side of the road having a seizure.

"I could hear the rattlesnakes in the grass near me. I had my gun, but I couldn't fire it because I was shaking so bad."

In total, she suffered 16 seizures on her trip. "I just got over them, got back on my bike and went," she said.

When Sefcik returned from her ride, she found a job and took care of her health. But she found that a piece of her was missing.

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So begins her next journey in August. This time for the Oscar Mike Foundation, an organization that gets injured veterans and first responders "On-the-Move" again through adaptive sports. It was started by Noah Currier, a former Marine who was injured in an accident and is paralyzed from the chest down. It is based in Poplar Grove.

On the 42-day, 2,547 mile journey, she'll ride through Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula through Michigan before heading into Canada. Her goal is to enter the U.S. by way of Niagara Falls to be in New York City at the Freedom Memorial Tower for the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11.

For the full story, click here.

40 years of playing softball together, every Sunday

Stories about men playing in slowpitch softball leagues well into their 60s aren't particularly rare. But how about two guys playing on the same team together every Sunday during the summer for the past 40 years? That's called crazy by some, but it's a major commitment to something you love to others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ryan Soukup of St. Charles and Don Gaedtke of Elgin have played together on the Soukup's Hardware team for four decades as part of a Sunday league in St. Charles and, more recently, on Thursday nights at Pottawatomie Park and Sundays in Carol Stream.

"My wife was the one who signed me up for the Sunday league in St. Charles when they were just taking a pool of players, and once the team got together, I was made the manager the first year, and I have no clue why," said the 61-year-old Soukup.

He went on to sponsor the team through his family's hardware store business and manages it to this day.

What his wife, Julie, couldn't have known at the time was that Ryan would eventually play every Sunday without fail -- except for one time when he was the best man at his brother's wedding.

The team outlasted the business, as Soukup's Hardware closed its last store in Glen Ellyn four years ago, but the softball squad still carries the Soukup's name because Ryan continues to sponsor the team.

For the 60-year-old Gaedtke, it's been a similar type of addiction as he continues to play basketball in addition to the long softball grind.

"It's the camaraderie of the team. That's the most important thing," said Gaedtke, who has missed only about four Sundays in the pas 40 years.

For the full story, click here.

Girl Scouts in Lake and McHenry add 'buddy benches' to playgrounds

A group of Girl Scouts in Lake and McHenry counties would like to see everyone having fun on the playground. And their recent service project is doing just that.

A buddy bench donated by Girl Scout troops 2377 and 134 with the Menominee Service Unit of Girl Scouts Northern Illinois.
A buddy bench donated by Girl Scout troops 2377 and 134 with the Menominee Service Unit of Girl Scouts Northern Illinois. - Courtesy of Kelly Bays

Over the past two years, 32 girls have collected more than 300 pounds of plastic bottle caps to make buddy benches. The benches are used to include all children during playtime. A child can sit on a bench letting others know they need someone to play with.

The Scouts used cookie sales money to have the caps made into two benches by Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 2377 and Troop 134 with the Menominee Service Unit of Girl Scouts Northern Illinois attend first through third grades in the Wauconda and McHenry school districts.

Last month, a six-foot bench was installed and dedicated at Converse Park in Island Lake. The other, a four-foot bench, was dedicated at Fort McHenry Park in McHenry.

"These girls have been so excited about this project," said leader Kelly Bays. "They are excited to encourage others to make new friends and keep the old, in true Girl Scout fashion. And they love that the benches are rainbow colored."

For the full story, click here.

Edward-Elmhurst Health donates PPE to India

On May 7, Edward-Elmhurst Health donated personal protective equipment to the National Council of Asian Indian Association Inc. which will send it to India to assist people caring for patients with COVID-19.

Five pallets of donated personal protective equipment, destined for India, are loaded onto a truck at Edward Hospital on May 7. Edward-Elmhurst Health on Friday donated personal protective equipment to the National Council of Asian Indian Association, Inc., which will send it to India to assist people caring for patients with COVID-19.
Five pallets of donated personal protective equipment, destined for India, are loaded onto a truck at Edward Hospital on May 7. Edward-Elmhurst Health on Friday donated personal protective equipment to the National Council of Asian Indian Association, Inc., which will send it to India to assist people caring for patients with COVID-19. - Courtesy of Edward-Elmhurst Health

Included in the donation are 3,500 isolation gowns, 6,000 N95 respirators and 72,000 exam gloves.

The association is working with National India Hub to ship the items to India.

The supplies then will be distributed to rural hospitals and COVID-19 emergency facilities, which are being set up in schools and community centers throughout the country.

India is averaging nearly 4,000 deaths and 400,000 new infections each day, and has registered nearly 250,000 deaths and 23 million cases since the pandemic began.

For the full story, click here.

• Good News Sunday will run each weekend. Please visit dailyherald.com/newsletters to sign up for our Good News Sunday newsletter.

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