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Dekker: Tinley Park naval officer to be honored at Blackhawks game

Updated: November 14, 2013 6:12AM



If you’ve attended or watched on TV a Chicago Blackhawks home game, you’ve most likely experienced the exciting moments when Jim Cornelison sings the national anthem and the team acknowledges two members of our military.

The combination of Cornelison’s magnificent rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, the lights, the music and the emotions of a stadium full of people provide a moving experience.

Since last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the United Service Organization of Illinois has coordinated the appearance of two members of the Armed Forces, one on active duty and one veteran, at each Blackhawks home game to honor them for their service to our country.

At the Oct. 17 game, one of Tinley Park’s service members will be honored. Naval Petty Officer Third Class Steve Medel Jr. is in active service, stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland as a cryptologist for the National Security Agency.

Growing up in Tinley Park, he attended Fulton and Sandidge elementary schools, Central Middle School and graduated from Tinley Park High School.

Medel’s father, Steve Sr., said the family had been looking online to try to get at least one ticket to the Blackhawks game so they could see Medel honored when they received a call from Central Middle School teacher Kelly Mentor, who had Steve and his siblings in her classes at Central.

Along with her husband, Mentor managed to secure and donate enough tickets to the game for Medel’s entire family to attend. Needless to say, the Medel family is thrilled and overwhelmed by the Mentors’ generosity.

“We can’t thank them enough” Steve Sr. said. “Everyone has been so kind. We are going to get free parking as well, and the Blackhawks are going to give us a tape of the game. It’s all very exciting.”

Congratulations to Steve Medel and his family. I’m again impressed by the acts of kindness and generosity that I see in Tinley Park time and time again as well with the support we have for our servicemen and women.

Holiday-related news

Tinley Park charities are preparing for the upcoming holiday season. The Orland Park-based Toy Box Connection children’s charity is looking for donations of new toys and gift cards that will be given to children of military families.

During the first week of December, Toy Box will be treating a local Army base to a day of Christmas fun, including a visit from Santa and gifts for all the children.

Toy Box Connection also supplies toys to the Military Connections, Wounded Warriors, Operation Homefront and Helmets to Hardhats organizations. It collects gently used toys and books year round to reach children in need.

The charity is now collecting old cellphones, DVDs, ink cartridges and digital cameras that will be recycled to raise funds. If you can help in any way, visit www.toyboxconnection.com or call (708) 691-2715 and find out more about Toy Box’s mission and the many ways that your donation can make a difference in a child’s life.

And don’t forget, the Downtown Tinley Boo Bash will be from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Oak Park Avenue Metra station. The free event includes games, crafts, prizes, dancing, DJ entertainment, a haunted train station, trick or treating and a costume parade and contest.

New this year is a live bat exhibit and demonstration. You might want to work on those costumes. I’ve heard that the top five winners will each get a new bicycle as their prize. See you there. Look for the gypsy!



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