Fed up with hearing about rude encounters between taxi drivers and the elderly, taxi dispatcher Dan Quiery decided to volunteer time in his retirement to righting these wrongs through Escorted Transportation Service Northwest (ETS/NW). Now the organization's 2011 Volunteer of the Year, according to the Daily Herald, Dan and a team of 70 volunteer drivers at ETS/NW offer both companionship and a vital service as they transport senior citizens to and from medical and dental appointments in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The seniors often have limited transportation options and would not be able to get to their appointments without aid. Though $12 donations are requested for each ride, the drivers chip in their own money to cover the cost of the trip's gas. Still, this does not deter founder Kathy Kasprowicz and her dedicated volunteers—honored with the 2012 STAR Merit Award from The Beverly Foundation—who were proud to have provided 2,453 roundtrip rides throughout the region in 2011 alone.
ChiroXchange supports a nervous system of more than 250 nationwide locations, whose varying services and technologies all converge with the end of healing bodies with holistic, drug-free techniques. The chiropractors believe that many of the body’s ailments, from sore backs and headaches to fatigue, are caused by blockages in the nervous system. To reverse these blockages, they nudge spinal discs back into place with gentle, strategic pressure, aligning nerves with the vertebra to free the flow of information and cat photos to and from the brain. The chiropractors at each location emphasize communication with their patients. They field questions, explain the purpose of every adjustment, and work with patients to design programs around their unique wellness goals.
The soft glow of 30,919 carved pumpkins lit up the night sky on Saturday, October 22, 2011—the night the town of Highwood set the Guinness world record for most jack-o’-lanterns lit in one location. And this year should be no different. The three-day Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival, which has gained coverage from The Rosie Show and Trib Local, invites guests from all over the country to contribute to its wall of carved pumpkins, an experience that will be captured by HGTV’s “Pumpkin Wars”.
Patrons can decorate prescooped pumpkins at the designated carving stations (or bring their own precarved candidate) as they enjoy a weekend of live music on multiple stages, treats from local vendors, a gourmet farmers’ market on Saturday, hayrides, and a New Orleans–inspired night parade. Participants can even test out their newly carved pumpkin sneakers during the festival’s 5K run, which raises funds and awareness for the Leukemia Research Foundation. The festival culminates with the lighting of the wall of jack-o’-lanterns at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and, when all is said and done, pumpkins won’t be left in the dark as their owners are encouraged to take their record-breaking masterpieces home with them.
The organizers of Double Denim Bar Crawl have two goals: raise awareness of autism and have fun doing it. Their yearly bar crawls through historic Wringleyville gather revelers suited up from head to toe in denim jeans, jackets, and shirts to let loose amid raffles, dance-offs, and debates on the cultural degradation caused by khaki. Contests including ring toss and a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament complement prizes for best and worst double denim, denim princess, and achievement for drinking excellence. Celebrants can feel good about every sudsy libation they imbibe since profits of the crawl go to the Chicagoland Chapter of Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to funding autism research, spreading awareness, and advocating for the individuals and families affected by autism.
Matt Feeney and Joel Berman share a disability and a dream. Feeney broke his neck diving off a 100-foot cliff and Berman lost his ability to walk after a runaway flatcar hit him while laying rail tracks. Together they founded Adaptive Adventures to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through participation in sports and outdoor recreation. The organization runs progressive sports programs year-round for children, adults, and service members who have been severely injured in conflicts abroad. They cater to people with a wide range of disabilities, including spinal-cord injuries, amputations, and cerebral palsy. The programs help build confidence and social skills in participants who could not otherwise afford equipment, training, and travel for recreational sports.
The Plastic Bag Solution aims to decrease the number of plastic bags left in areas such as landfills and water sources to decompose, leech toxins into the environment, and destroy natural landscapes. The organization produces a compostable bag made from a renewable blend of BPI-certified organic polymers including corn and potato starch. They naturally decompose the same way a potato would, but are as durable and waterproof as a plastic bag. The Plastic Bag Solution distributes these bags as a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based bags and raises awareness about the dangers of plastic-bag waste through community green events, lectures, and advocacy among local politicians. Staff members also show their dedication to the health of the environment by attending all of their meetings by bike.