Vija Lietuvninkas

Brookfield resident Judy Rospenda this week is joining more than 700 cancer patients, survivors, volunteers and staff from across the nation in Washington, D.C., as part of the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit and Lobby Day.

Rospenda, a cancer survivor, will meet with Congressman Luiz Gutierrez (D-4th) and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Mark Kirk to discuss the need to support an increase in federal funding for cancer research. She will also ask them to co-sponsor legislation supporting patients’ quality of life and to close a loophole in Medicare that often results in surprise costs for seniors related to colonoscopies.

It’s a major award

The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, a musical production whose book was written by Riverside resident John Reeger, was nominated for several Joseph Jefferson Awards, including Best New Work-Musical.

The Joseph Jefferson Awards, often called the Jeff Awards, honor excellence in professional theater in the immediate Chicago area. The awards ceremony will be held on Oct. 17 at the Drury Lane Theater in Oakbrook Terrace. 

Honored for DUI enforcement

Several local police officers were honored recently by organizations devoted to stricter enforcement of drunk driving.

In August, Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel received the George and Marilyn Murphy Leadership Award by the Illinois Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Weitzel was recognized for his work during three decades of law enforcement in DUI enforcement. In addition, Weitzel was appointed chairman of the newly created MADD Illinois state advisory board.

MADD also honored Riverside Police Officer Brian Greenenwald with a special Heroes award for drunk driving enforcement “in statewide recognition of the significant contributions Officer Greenenwald has made to the fight against drunk driving.”

Meanwhile, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) awarded Certificates of Appreciation to Brookfield Police officers Daniel Roche and Rafael Alvarado and to Riverside officers Isaac Hamilton, Joseph Mahanna and Greenenwald for outstanding DUI enforcement.

Brookfield business helping a cause

Brookfield business owner Mary Vasquez of Mary’s Morning Mixup, 9110 Broadway Ave., has teamed up with marathon runner Tom Camacho to raise funds throughout the month of September for Special Olympics Chicago.

Camacho is raising money in advance of his participation in the Hennepin Hundred, a 100-mile race on Oct. 1-2 and as part of the Special Olympics team at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9.

Mary’s Morning Mixup will be donating half of the proceeds on every dozen box of doughnuts it sells to Camacho’s fundraising efforts. The staff is also wearing Special Olympics T-shirts throughout the month and giving away T-shirts to anyone donating $20 or more.

On stage

Brookfield resident Tina Shelley is the stage manager and Riverside resident Diana Visk is assistant stage manager for the Theatre of Western Springs’ production of Steel Magnolias, which runs through Sept. 18.

For more information on the show, which debuted off-Broadway in 1987, visit online at

Brookfield resident Braden Schneider plays the role of Tony Kirby in the Nazareth Academy production of You Can’t Take It With You, which will run Oct. 27-30 at the Romano Family Theatre at Nazareth Academy, 1209 W. Ogden Ave., LaGrange Park

All seats are reserved at $15 each. Reservations can be made by calling 708-387-8537. 

Adventure in the great outdoors

Riverside resident Vija Lietuvninkas recently finished up a summer semester in Alaska as part of a program offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

Lietuvninkas, 24, and nine others began the course in Prince William Sound kayaking 181 nautical miles over 22 days. The students then spent 23 days in the Denali National Park honing their mountaineering skills and learning glacier travel and ice climbing.

The semester culminated with a 24-day hiking section covering 103 miles within the Healy Mountains, traveling through bogs, willows and tundra and focusing on communication, decision making, navigation and first aid skills. 

On campus

Benedictine University in Lisle awarded undergraduate and graduate degrees to more than 700 students during its May commencement ceremonies.

Among those receiving degrees were Brookfield resident Samantha Kannon (B.A. management); North Riverside resident Maciej L. Chojecki (B.S. nursing, with honors); and Riverside resident Dolores Ferenec (Bachelor of Business Administration).

Northern Illinois University in DeKalb awarded degrees during its summer commencement ceremonies in August to Brookfield residents Eric Schumacher (M.S. liberal arts and sciences), Nickolas Arias (B.S. health and human sciences) and Pamela Kosey (Bachelor of General Studies).

NIU in DeKalb also awarded degrees during its May commencement ceremonies to the following local students: Brookfield residents Elizabeth Smith (Doctor of Physical Therapy), Gregory Lezon (B.A. liberal arts and sciences) and Nicole Walker (B.S. liberal arts and sciences) and North Riverside residents Mark Wolak (M.S. engineering) and Jessica Sandoval (M.A. liberal arts and sciences).

Among those named to the 2016 spring semester dean’s list at Northern Illinois University were Brookfield residents Kristy Francis and Lezon, North Riverside resident Kellie Cavaliere and Riverside resident Elizabeth Dore.

Liam Lesniak, of Riverside, was named to the dean’s list for the spring 2016 semester at Ripon (Wisconsin) College for achieving a grade-point average of at least 3.4 on a 4-point scale.

Lesniak, an economics and business management major, is the son of David and Bridget Lesniak.