Losing sleep for two nights this week fantasizing about what I would do if I won the billion-plus dollar lottery was for naught – I didn’t win.
But if I had won, I jotted down a few thoughts on where the money could be spent.
After assuring my family’s safety by temporarily moving them into a hotel under assumed names, I would have to shut down our phone, email and Facebook accounts, install a security system in our home, plus choose a financial adviser, personal banker, attorney, limo driver and a security detail.
After that I could begin planning how to use the windfall to help out in areas where I have always had an interest: education and local history.
I have felt that too much attention and awards are showered on the top few percent of high achievers in academics and sports.
What about the other 90 percent of the students. With that thought in mind, I would go through the DeKalb County Community Foundation and set up a fund of $15 million or $20 million to be distributed as follows: select a percentage of the underprivileged, under-achieving students ranked in the lower half of their class and fund their complete education plus living expenses at a trade school, Kishwaukee College or Northern Illinois University. Finance them one semester at a time and require a C average to keep funding them the next semester. Of course they might need tutors and counselors, so that would have to be included as well. Those who excelled and completed their education would receive a cash award to use in finding a job and getting established in a home of their own.
The DeKalb County of Regional Office of Education told me there were 17,453 students enrolled in public, religious and private schools in the county last year, so it would be necessary to figure out how many to fund – maybe one-third of the junior or senior classes in every school district.
Then moving on to local history: ask each village or city to select one or two superstars who stood out in the community down through history. I would have liked to commission sculptor Renee Bemis to design a larger than life statue of each one to place along main streets. I could think of a few already – Waterman could honor Tom Roberts Sr. (founder of DeKalb Ag), beloved teacher Bernice Kirkus, the Eakle family battleship float and even a giant replica of a Ho-Ka turkey. Sycamore already has honored two men with sculptures, All-American coach Pete Johnson and “Mister Pumpkin” Wally Thurow; but what about adding abolitionist Deacon David West. DeKalb has bandleader Dee Palmer memorialized, but also could recognize the four men responsible for getting Northern here – Issac Ellwood, Joseph Glidden, Jacob Haish and Clinton Rosette. And of course pioneer farm woman Annie Glidden would be my favorite.
Shabbona has an easy choice – Chief Shabbona. His statue should be at least 50-feet tall. Fairdale could honor Bill Nicklas, and Victor township could cast a bronze replica of Old Charley, the heroic Civil War horse. I could continue but let each community do their own choosing.
Adding to the history component, the school kids need to learn about these icons in local history, plus a lot more about their home county. So my earlier failed attempt at buying a 40-foot RV or bus to convert into a museum on wheels could now have funding for a full-time driver and curator. I can envision a $250,000 “Historymobile” visiting every school in the county as well as community celebrations.
But all this dreaming is for naught. I didn’t win.