Good News Sunday: 3:36 a.m. phone call from president announces release of brother held hostage in Afghanistan

  • Mark Frerichs, a Lombard native who was held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, was released this week. His sister Charlene Cakora received a phone call from President Joe Biden with the news.

    Mark Frerichs, a Lombard native who was held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, was released this week. His sister Charlene Cakora received a phone call from President Joe Biden with the news. Courtesy of Charlene Cakora

 
 
Posted9/25/2022 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:

Charlene Cakora devoted "every day" of the last 31 months to setting her brother free.

 

Her anguish has turned into a wave of relief. American hostage Mark Frerichs, a Lombard native and civil engineering contractor who was abducted in Afghanistan in January 2020, was released by the Taliban on Monday in exchange for a convicted Taliban drug lord who had been held in U.S. federal prison.

Cakora, of Lombard, said she got the news when her cellphone rang at 3:36 a.m. Monday and President Joe Biden was on the line, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

"I was just in awe. I was stunned, very happy, very happy," Cakora said, adding that the call from Biden "was very brief, just getting to the point, because, you know, he was at the queen's funeral," referring to the final day of services for Queen Elizabeth II in London.

"But he was really brief and sweet and just basically said that my brother is pretty much lucky to have me as a sister," she said.

Cakora thanked President Biden and U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin for their efforts to obtain his freedom.

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Meet Corey the Corsair, the dog providing year-round comfort to Carmel students

It's not uncommon these days for suburban students to find comfort during stressful times such as exams from trained therapy dogs.

More unusual is the situation at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein where most students can rely on the kind, reassuring presence of Corey the Corsair, a goldendoodle owned and trained by Principal Jason Huther.

Principal Jason Huther brings his dog Corey to Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein to act as a therapy dog. The response from students has been positive, he says.
  Principal Jason Huther brings his dog Corey to Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein to act as a therapy dog. The response from students has been positive, he says. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

Huther said the idea to add a full-time therapy dog came from the overwhelming popularity of the trained dogs the school often hires during exams. He said hundreds of students line up to have a few minutes of one-on-one time with those dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Now 8 months old, Corey spends most days with Huther on campus greeting students as they arrive on campus, walking the halls between periods and even popping into classrooms when appropriate.

"Carmel has definitely seen a huge impact now that Corey has come on board," junior Sofia Collazo said. "He is always there to comfort you even if you're having the worst day on Earth."

For the full story, click here.

Cook County residents unite against hate during Racial Equity Week

Cook County held a series of virtual and in-person educational events last week as part of its third annual Racial Equity Week.

Earlier in the week, the Cook County United Against Hate initiative hosted a moderated discussion about white supremacist indoctrination. Dozens of people participated in an interactive, outdoor community activation event Thursday at the Tyner Interpretive Center in Glenview to help participants learn and act against hate through art, social justice and cultural exchange.

The Korean sound group Soribeat performs during the Cook County United Against Hate Community Activation last week at the Tyner Interpretive Center in Glenview. The event was part of the county's third annual Racial Equity Week.
  The Korean sound group Soribeat performs during the Cook County United Against Hate Community Activation last week at the Tyner Interpretive Center in Glenview. The event was part of the county's third annual Racial Equity Week. - Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

"When white supremacists came to my doorstep in the spring to deliver dangerous and hateful antisemitic propaganda, it was a stark reminder that hate thrives in every shadow and we must do all we can to shine the light on justice and equality," said Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton of Glenview.

Organizers unveiled a new "beacon-of-unity" symbol to counter symbols of hatred and racism and introduced a pledge challenging residents to denounce bigotry and intolerance of any kind, support those with different lived experiences, question hateful acts and learn to take social justice action.

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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