Good News Sunday: Scuba diving offers new opportunities for people with disabilities

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

When Peggy Domitz is underwater, anything feels possible.

Paralyzed from the waist down for more than a decade, the 63-year-old discovered scuba diving in 2019 through Diveheart, a Downers Grove-based nonprofit group using underwater therapy to build confidence, independence and self-esteem in children and adults with disabilities.

Domitz, a Glenbrook North High School graduate who now splits her time between Ohio and Florida, said scuba diving helped her become fearless.

"It's so beautiful and fascinating down there," she said. "Just because you're disabled doesn't mean your world has to stop."

Tinamarie Hernandez, the executive director of Diveheart, said people with disabilities from around the world have enjoyed similar experiences on their scuba diving trips.

"We've had a lot of breakthroughs for people because they get to see themselves standing for maybe the first time," Hernandez said. "They get to maneuver themselves by themselves. When you're underwater, the possibilities are endless."

For the full story, click here.

Rehabbed great horned owl returns to wild

After weeks of caring for a sick, young great horned owl, rehabbers from Anderson Humane got the payoff for their efforts Friday when the bird reluctantly walked out of a transport cage at Campton Forest Preserve, looked around, and then soared to a nearby tree.

"This is the best feeling; this is why I do what I do," said Stephanie Franczak, a wildlife rehabilitation manager at Anderson. "Release day is the end game. Seeing him come in grounded, unable to stand or feed himself, and now watching the strong flight to that tree is literally why I'm here."

The young owl, likely between 1 and 2 years old, was brought to Anderson in South Elgin on Aug. 6 after a Campton Hills resident saw him on the ground, unable to fly and not moving from where he sat. Campton Hills police took him to Anderson.

For the full story, click here.

Mount Prospect resident still going strong at 100

If anyone is a living example of the term "aging in place," it is Bernice Oehlerking.

Oehlerking has spent all of her 100 years living in Mount Prospect, a village only six years older than she.

During all that time, she has lived in only two homes. The first sat on what was then known as Railroad Avenue. Then, in the 1950s, her family moved to the 600 block of South School Street, where Oehlerking still resides today and recently celebrated reaching the century mark with a backyard party.

Longtime residents may remember Oehlerking from visits to Central Continental Bakery, where she worked for many years. Those who go back even further may recall her working at Meeske's Market.

Among those who attended her birthday party was Mayor Paul Hoefert and his wife, Linda. The mayor even read a proclamation in honor of "Bernice Oehlerking Day."

For the full story, click here.

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

  Anderson Humane's Alex Schwander holds open the cage door to release a great horned owl back in to the wild at Campton Forest Preserve after a rehab stint at their Elburn wildlife center. Rick West/
  Bernice Oehlerking recently celebrated her 100th birthday with a party at her home on South School Street in Mount Prospect. She has lived in the village all of her life, and in her current home, since the 1950s. Steve Zalusky/
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