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Sometimes all one needs to make a difference is a few inspiring words and the collective will of a few good people to put the wheels in motion, or in this instance, an electric razor.

Late last year, Summit Hill Junior High seventh grader Madalynn O’Neil learned that her mother received a second cancer diagnosis. On top of that, her friend Lilly Pavlik was also diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and became a sponsor for St. Baldrick’s.

“I was going to shave my head, but unfortunately the next day I had a dance competition so I needed my hair,” O’Neil said.

Rebecca Susmarski

After 8-year-old Bella Rodrigues lost her lower right leg to surgery, a therapy dog named Max came to her assistance — but if he could talk, he might say the young girl helped him just as much. 

Rodrigues, a Mokena resident, has been attending therapy with Max since the late winter of 2014 at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. Rodrigues regained much of her strength and learned to use her prosthetic leg by walking Max down the hospital’s halls, playing catch with him and performing other activities. 

Danny Ciamprone

Children’s author and mother of two, Amy Logan, has made it her personal mission to empower children and spread kindness not only through her written words, but with her actions every day.

Danny Ciamprone

A 20-year-old Mokena man was charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools at 19900 S. LaGrange Road in Mokena after police were called to the report of a suspect in a gray hoodie attempting to break into a business.

Brian Sweeney, of 19903 Fiona Ave., in Mokena, was charged after police said security cameras showed the suspect attempting to break into the front door of the business and then trying to open the drive-thru window. 

Rebecca Susmarski
Press conference scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Mokena native Aaron Toppen, a Lincoln-Way East graduate, was among five American troops killed by friendly fire Monday, June 9, during a security operation in southern Afghanistan, a family friend said.

Toppen was 19.

“It’s very tragic,” said Jennie Swartz, the family friend who spoke to The Mokena Messenger by phone Tuesday, June 10.

Danielle Tabor

Aaron Toppen grew up dreaming of serving his country.

Though he and family members knew his enlisting would come with an unavoidable degree of risk, they held firm and united — a tight-knit group — in supporting his ambition, keeping close from the time he was a tot to a teen.

Rebecca Susmarski

Mokena teen who allegedly resisted police arrested again

A Mokena 19-year-old who police subdued with a stun gun during an alleged altercation in early April was arrested again Sunday, April 27, this time allegedly with 368 Xanax pills and marijuana in his possession.

Robert M. Hollingsworth, 19, of the 11400 block of Abbey Road, was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana, underage drinking and driving on the wrong side of the road. 

Will O'Brien

The second annual Mokena Festa Italiana will be held on Sunday, July 19, and is expected to draw an even larger crowd than last year’s 1,000-plus attendees.  

The event begins at 11 a.m. at Mokena Intermediate School, 11331 195th St., with a procession ending at the festival grounds at the Front Street Metra Station lot. The festival is based on the traditional Italian Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  

Danny Ciamprone

Pam Toppen takes a seat in a Starbucks cafe next to her daughter, Amanda Gralewski, as she smiles and enthusiastically introduces her baby granddaughter, a certain bitter sweetness though as it was roughly a year ago that Toppen found out about her while having to plan to funeral.

A little while later, she shows off her dog tags with her late son’s military photo proudly imprinted – something she never leaves her home without.

Rebecca Susmarski

No music is playing, rather just the sound of pouring rain, some bickering among park visitors and a tyrannosaurus rex with a dangerous combination of curiosity and appetite, who has made its way out of captivity.

Danny Ciamprone

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