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Hofmann: ‘Evening for Josie’ helps Homewood teen

Josie Nordman | Supplied photo

Josie Nordman | Supplied photo

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Updated: June 20, 2013 6:17AM



To paraphrase lines from Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage … where every man (and woman) must play a part.”

So was the case last weekend when members of The Drama Group banded together to stage an “Evening for Josie,” a benefit performance to defray medical costs for Josie Nordman, the 19-year-old college student from Homewood who’s in need of a double lung transplant.

If you live in the Homewood-Flossmoor area, chances are good that you know about Josie. The 2011 Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate is suffering from end-stage lung disease as a result of cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disorder she was diagnosed with as an infant.

Or perhaps you’ve noticed the license plate “CURE CF” around town on the Nordman family car.

If you don’t know Josie personally — through her involvement in local theater or as an avid equestrian — you might have noticed the donation fund “Jars for Josie” at local businesses. The collection effort is sponsored by Homewood orthodontist Lisa Grant.

Or maybe you’ve contributed to the effort by dining at a local restaurant on dates set aside to help the cause or donated to one of two fundraising websites established by friends of the Nordman family and local businesses.

Since news of the family’s situation surfaced, neighbors and friends have banded together to help the family. In recent weeks, residents of some surrounding communities have mounted fundraising efforts to offset the costs of a lung transplant that are not covered by insurance. Last weekend, it was The Drama Group, which is based in Chicago Heights and where Josie has performed.

Tina Zagone, of Olympia Fields, a longtime member of the theater group, said several members suggested producing a benefit performance. The Drama Group board agreed to sponsor the venue, and local residents took it from there.

Zagone said she and Judie Felix co-founded the group “Many Hands, One Heart” with the belief that everyone has a gift, talent, ability or resource that can be used in a tangible way to help others in need. They organized a similar event years ago and decided it was time to resurrect the concept.

Lynn Werth, of Crete, lined up a talented all-volunteer cast. Bobbie Sievering (Josie’s grandmother and a Drama Group volunteer), of Park Forest, organized ticket sales, and a Nordman family friend, Christine Casey, solicited auction items.

Felix, a Joliet resident, first met Josie in 2009, when she was working in H-F High’s theater department. When she heard that Josie was in failing health, Felix had to do something.

“I knew she had cystic fibrosis, and I felt a kinship with her since I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Felix said, adding that Drama Group members use social media to keep track of young performers as they move on to college.

Josie is the oldest of four children and is a sophomore at Northwestern University, majoring in theater. She was placed on the lung transplant list in December. Her lung capacity diminished rapidly in the past year and is now at 16 percent.

In a recent telephone conversation with Josie while she was en route to the hospital, she described the outpouring of community support as “incredible and awe-inspiring.” She said she’s trying to stay in school and be as productive as possible while awaiting a transplant.

Insight Awareness, a wellness and education center in Homewood, has set up an online fundraising page. Donations can be made through June 4 at giveforward.com./The Josie Nordman Fund or www.indiegogo.com



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