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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

The Will County Sheriff’s Office arrested two 15-year-old male students of Lincoln-Way East High School after they allegedly created a “hoax” threat of “shooting up and blowing up the school” the evening of Oct. 27, according to the Will County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a news release issued Oct. 28 by the sheriff’s office, the students were picked up at the school around noon and brought to the Sheriff’s Investigation Division for questioning.

Danielle Tabor
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

Two Mokena men were charged with retail theft Aug. 31 after police initiated a search warrant in regard to alleged theft involving the Village of Mokena’s water supply.

Rory Cook, 45, of 19521 Blyth Way, in Mokena, and Robert Cook, 66, of 20018 Pinegrove Drive, in Mokena, were charged with retail theft at their respective residencies after police reportedly initiated a search warrant.

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

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

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

Farmers markets, outdoor movies, trips to the pool, festivals, parades, cruise nights and fireworks. There is no shortage of activities when it comes to summer in the southwest suburbs. And 22nd Century Media has 101 ideas for readers to get out and enjoy their communities this summer. We provided 50 ideas in print and now have 51 more online. Enjoy!

1. One Fish, Two Fish ... Time to Find All the Fish

Will O'Brien

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