Good News Sunday: Make-A-Wish comfort dog brings joy to Mundelein teen

  • Dani Lococo, 18, of Mundelein, who has Rett syndrome, received a comfort dog named Marli from Make-A-Wish.

      Dani Lococo, 18, of Mundelein, who has Rett syndrome, received a comfort dog named Marli from Make-A-Wish. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/2/2021 6:19 PM

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

The sun came out, the coats came off, and warm smiles spread across the faces of the crowd in a Mundelein driveway as 18-year-old Dani Lococo celebrated her newfound friendship with Marli, her Make-A-Wish Illinois comfort dog.

 

"When Marli wakes her up in the morning, she has a big smile on her face," Shari Lococo said of her daughter. Marli, a 5-month-old Australian labradoodle, isn't a service dog trained to do tasks. She's here to snuggle and be a best buddy for Dani.

Diagnosed with Rett syndrome at age 3, Dani Lococo can't talk and generally uses a wheelchair, but she can walk with someone supporting her. The incurable neurological disorder overwhelming affects girls. Boys with the genetic syndrome rarely survive childhood, but female patients have been known to live into middle age. One of the symptoms is a nearly constant wringing of hands.

"(Dani) needs help doing everything," Shari Lococo said.

The idea for a comfort dog came after Sammi Lococo, 22, worked a summer internship with Make-A-Wish and realized that her younger sister was eligible.

The family started The Dani Lococo Foundation a decade ago and have raised money for Rettsyndrome.org with golf tournaments and other fundraisers.

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For the full story, click here.

Palatine High School media center workers use TikTok to promote reading

Leaping over a desk. Falling with a dozen hardcover books in your arms. Hanging off a moving book cart.

"There is nothing we won't try" goes a line in the song that two Palatine High School media center staff members used in their latest TikTok video -- and that pretty much sums it up.

Meredith Quick and Sarina Flores are the creators the media center TikTok account, @mediacenterphs, which they launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The account's tagline is "Just a bunch of librarians looking to spread the love of reading."

Palatine High School media center assistant Sarina Flores reviews material for a TikTok video. She and library assistant Meredith Quick have created more than 100 videos for TikTok, with most getting 200 to 300 views.
  Palatine High School media center assistant Sarina Flores reviews material for a TikTok video. She and library assistant Meredith Quick have created more than 100 videos for TikTok, with most getting 200 to 300 views. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Both me and Sarina are very outgoing people, and we miss the kids," Quick said. "It was like, 'How do we get to the kids?' And the kids are on their iPhone or their iPad. We wanted to reach out to them."

Quick is a library assistant, and Flores is a media center assistant. The two have posted 108 lighthearted videos via the social networking app to promote books and reading, as well as things like Black History Month, Women's History Month and the "Top 16" books picked by high school librarians and staff members.

They get on average 200 to 300 views, with some garnering more than 1,000. The most popular has about 5,500 views.

"Our intent is not to go viral. Our intent is to make connections with our students," Quick said. "We are here for them, we miss them and we are going to be here for them when this is all over."

For the full story, click here.

Islamic Relief volunteers pack 40,000 meals at Naperville event

Islamic Relief USA, a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization, recently hosted a meal packing event in Naperville with partner, Rise Against Hunger. These local volunteers ended up packaging a total of 40,000 meals that day between two shifts.

The two organizations are assembling meals for families suffering around the world. The meals include rice, soy, and dehydrated vegetables consisting of 23 essential vitamins and minerals.

They also are accepting donations for Ramadan Food Boxes containing nonperishables and food; $10 can provide an individual meal, $50 can provide a family with a food package, and $100 can provide rice and meal essentials for five families.

The Naperville Pack-Out Event is part of IRUSA's campaign to assemble over a million meals in the next several weeks at various locations. To learn more about these programs or to make a donation, visit irusa.org/food/.

For the full story, click here.

Congressman's dog home safe after 10 days missing

A lost dog story that captivated canine lovers on both sides of the political aisle and around the world has reached a happy ending for U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider and his family.

More than a week after bolting from a dog sitter and disappearing, the Schneiders' yellow Labrador retriever, JoJo, was found this past weekend and is safe with her humans.

Social media posts attracted comments from dozens of supporters and hundreds of shares. Neighbors joined in the search for JoJo, and lost dog flyers went up in the area.

Based on sightings, the search focused on a Bannockburn stormwater reservoir managed by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

With help from forest district police Officer Sam Diaz, JoJo was found at the reservoir late Sunday night.

"We are overjoyed to have JoJo safely home," said Schneider, a Deerfield Democrat who represents Illinois' 10th District.

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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