Hope and Charity Rise from Times of Despair

lilyAt the beginning of this new year, I’d like to take the time to pay tribute to four stellar individuals who passed last month. They were all people who have touched my life, my family’s lives and the lives of so many others as well.  While they are no longer here, their memories will live on in the memories of others and through contributions made to their favorite organizations.

  • David F. Dean, Sr.: This fine gentleman was my grandfather. He served time in the United States Army, worked for Banker’s Life and Casualty for 46 years, and was a member of the Blackhawk Curling Club. My grandfather was an awesome man and I miss him very much. Even at the end of his life he was selfless, thinking of Agrace HospiceCare, Inc, where he requested any memorial contributions be donated. This non-profit organization provided my grandfather with great care and my family with a lot of comfort.
  • Stanley R. Racki Jr.: Stanley is the big brother of one of my very close friends, Tim Racki. Children were Stanley’s life; he was an elementary teacher for Downers Grove District 58 at Fairmount and Whittier Schools. It was only appropriate that all donations in his honor have been sent to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). I wonder sometimes if he’s chatting with Cubs Great Ron Santo about how awesome JDRF is.
  • John Dunbar Battistoni: I had the honor of knowing John for eight great years, serving as his coach for three.  In his memory, his family has set up a memorial scholarship fund in his honor at Nazareth Academy.  Donations are also being accepted for the St. Cletus Endowment Fund. I hope much educational support comes out of his death.
  • Natalie A. Kaiser: Many of you know about my work with the I AM PK Foundation. Natalie was the mother of Phillip, and served as a surrogate mother to myself and many others.  I know that despite of her sudden passing, her friends and family have found some peace in knowing that mother and son have been united. Together, they are watching donations pour into the I AM PK Foundation, which dedicates awareness to testing athletes for undiagnosed heart conditions.
While December was a sad month, faith, family and friends, plus this poem by Mary Stevenson “Footprints in the Sand” have helped to get me through.  I also take solace in knowing that their deaths were not in vain and that good work will come from the donations made to their organizations.  Please consider these great causes as you look to make the difference in lives of others in 2013 and beyond.