MALTA – There are plenty of characteristics that describe a hero. Among them are selfless devotion to others, a unrelenting work ethic, and a passion for change.
Another similar trait is that most heroes don’t actually think they are doing anything heroic.
Five individuals were honored Thursday night at the 11th annual DeKalb County Tribute to Heroes event, which was put on by the Three Fires Council Boy Scouts of America. Each honoree thanked the family, friends, and mentors who have affected their lives, and none spent much time highlighting their accomplishments.
• Born in the Philippines, Evelina Cichy has worked as a Kishwaukee College administrator for more than 36 years. She stays close to her roots by collecting used textbooks and delivering them to students in the Philippines. She also raises funds for disaster recovery in her home country. Here in the U.S., Cichy works on Asian-American Heritage Month events at the college and has been the driving force behind he work done by the Hispanic Services Committee.
“These 40 years have taught me valuable lessons,” Cichy said to the crowd after receiving her award. “The most important one is to be grateful for blessings and opportunities I have received, and it’s my duty to give back in return.”
• Denise Curran was awarded the honor after her 18 years as a teacher and motivator in Hinckley, and as a guidance counselor at Clinton Rosette Middle School for 15 years. Curran has assisted countless numbers of struggling students, taking students who were failing and getting them to fulfill their graduation requirements. Currently, Curran is on the board of directors for the DeKalb County Hospice and serves as a homeless liaison and truancy officer to the county.
She would frequently tell her students who were less than enthusiastic about school, “The more math you take, the more money you make.”
“I am truly humbled to be recognized with others who have given so much to the DeKalb County community,” Curran said, as she went on to explain the heroes in her own life.
• “When I think of heroes I think of people who have served in the armed forces,” said Dave Lindgren, the third honoree of the evening. Lindgren has been an active volunteer in the Boy Scouts since 1991, and he has been a mentor to many young boys. He is currently the district chairman of scouting in the county, and his duties are to make sure that all leaders are trained and strong programs are being offered to the scouts.
• Barry Schrader, the fourth hero, has spent his 50-year career in the media – including with the Daily Chronicle – informing the uninformed. Schrader was also very active in the scouts, and he currently works with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“I found that throughout my life, I had to lean on a lot of people to get through life and to accomplish the things that I wanted to accomplish,” Schrader said, adding that he owed a lot of his community service to his family who were willing to support his throughout the years.
The final honoree, Michael Flora, is the president and CEO of Ben Gordon Center, which provides mental health and substance abuse services to DeKalb County. He also founded the DeKalb Leadership Academy, which instills confidence and leadership skills in young people in DeKalb.
“Community leadership is not just about a one-person job,” Flora said. “The accomplishments of the Ben Gordon Center are a tribute to the heroes, the men and women who I’ve had a privilege to work beside. The heroes that seek recovery for their behavioral health care concerns each and every day.”
The honorees received an engraved plaque and an American flag as a symbol for their profound achievements, which they believe are just another day’s work.