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New Lenox Remembers its 'Fallen Angels' With Balloon Release

Hundreds released balloons into the sky on Sunday, June 24 at the Village Commons as a way of remembering those who died young from New Lenox schools and districts.

On a weekend when another young life was lost in this community, friends and family came together to remember their loved ones who died young. 

"It's nice to know that as time goes by, people don't forget," said Frankfort resident Lily Joy whose nephew, Jim Komperda, died at 20 after graduating from in 1999.

Friends and family did more than just remember their loved ones who died during or shortly after high school at the New Lenox on Sunday, June 24.

"I know many looking at this occasion thought it would be a solemn event," Mayor Tim Baldermann said. "And when you're remembering those who died too early: It can be. But we need to rejoice as well."

Next, Lincoln-Way Central teacher Chris Hack read-off the list of names of students and faculty members who had died while at local schools or shortly after. It took nearly 10 minutes for Hack to read-off the entire list of students that dated back to the class of 1970.

"We keep all that have died in our thoughts and in our prayers," said John Meraklis, the Providence Catholic High School pastoral director. Included in the list of Providence students that passed away was 2012 graduate, Kaitlyn Moak, who died suddenly on Friday, June 22.

Nick DiSandro, school board president for District 122, read the names of those who died young within his district. He had an even stronger connection to that list because his daughter, Alicia, was on it. She died at age 14 after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

Musical performances were given by two people who were connected to someone who died during or shortly after high school, as well.

"You left footsteps on so many lives, it was too soon you left this world behind," Makena Koszela sang in her performance of her song 'We Won't Blink' that she wrote in honor of Tommy Schuman, the Lincoln-Way Central baseball and golf captain who died in March 2012. 

Former Lincoln-Way Central class officer Kim Phillips said how she felt that even though the community has been through a lot in the past few months, it has brought them closer together.

"I learned a lot from difficulties my town has faced," said Phillips who organzied the event. "Also, the over the past two years. I learned that we should charish every moment in life, and never take for granted."

After Phillips concluded her speech, balloons were released into the sky. Some of them carried notes written on them from their loved ones that read messages that they were never able to say.

The color of the balloons denoted which school someone attended when passing: red for Lincoln-Way Central, orange for Lincoln-Way West, blue for District 122, green for Providence Catholic and yellow for St. Jude.

T-shirts were on sale from  for $11 that read "Remember our Angels." A balloon release memorial will be held every year on the last Sunday in June, according to Phillips.

"This is what makes me really proud to be major of this town," Baldermann said. "This is really, truely a special community."

Kerry Lynn June 25, 2012 at 10:57 PM
The day could not of been more beautiful...and the love, words and music could not have been more heartfelt. God bless everyone who have left us...and God bless all of us who are left behind...Love and Peace to all! :)
Kim Phillips June 26, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Thanks =) I announced in my speech at the event that this event will be held every year on the last Sunday in June.
Kim Phillips June 26, 2012 at 03:10 AM
$3.00 from both the Angels shirt from Brother's t-shirt shop in St. Charles, IL and Balloon shirt from EmbroidMe will be put in an account to go towards a memorial stone or tree. I received a suggestion from Bill at EmbroidMe, he said we should see if Lincoln-Way Central's woodshop class would donate a bench and engrave "New Lenox School's Angels" on the front of the bench to put in the New Lenox Commons a long with a tree next to it. Every year we can add the the angel area. That is my plan but I will be running this idea past Mayor Baldermann tomorrow. I will also be setting up an account at the bank to put donation money in.
Kim Phillips June 26, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Brother's t-shirt shop sold the Angels shirts. You can still oder both shirts. Brother's number is (815) 341-1216. $3.00 from both the Angels shirt from Brother's t-shirt shop in St. Charles, IL and Balloon shirt from EmbroidMe will be put in an account to go towards a memorial stone or tree. I received a suggestion from Bill at EmbroidMe, he said we should see if Lincoln-Way Central's woodshop class would donate a bench and engrave "New Lenox School's Angels" on the front of the bench to put in the New Lenox Commons a long with a tree next to it. Every year we can add the the angel area. That is my plan but I will be running this idea past Mayor Baldermann tomorrow. I will also be setting up an account at the bank to put donation money in.
Stacy Gilbert June 28, 2012 at 03:10 AM
The Angels "gone but never forgotten" are sold from a T-shirt shop located in Charleston, IL. Two former L-Way Central students attended EIU and opened up a T-shirt ship in Charleston. Those T-shirts are still available if anyone would like one. They just need to contact me! - Stacy Gilbert

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