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Tinley Park students ‘give back’ with pride

Anthony GinPecho (center) students from Tinley Park High School Pride program present Illinois Horse Rescue Will County with check Thursday.

Anthony and Gina Pecho (center) and students from the Tinley Park High School Pride program present Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County with a check Thursday. | Supplied photo

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Students from Tinley Park High School’s PRIDE Program on Thursday donated $1,550 to Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County.

It was a chance for the students to give back to an organization that has given them character-building opportunities, work skills and more.

Students in PRIDE — a program designed to help kids stay out of trouble — raised the funds during a football game against rival Oak Forest. They organized the fundraiser from start to finish, selling T-shirts, holding a raffle and collecting cash donations.

Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County, a nonprofit run by Tony and Gina Pecho, was founded by them three years ago when Tony, a real estate agent, bought a horse ranch in Peotone.

Soon after, he received a call from a school for students with special needs who wanted to visit. Now, he said, the mission of Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County is not just to rescue horses but to build a stronger generation from among those who visit.

“I was amazed that something I took for granted was so important,” said Pecho, a Tinley Park native and Tinley Park High School alum. “I wanted to get the high school students involved, to give the teens a work ethic.”

Each month, students from PRIDE — which stands for Progress, Responsibility, Independence, Determination and Excellence — visit the facility in Peotone. They bail hay and clean and feed the horses.

Tinley Park High School Principal Theresa Nolan said that because Tony Pecho is an alum, the “giving back” feels extra special. She said it is amazing to see the boys interact with the animals.

“You see a whole different side of them, a kinder, gentler side of them,” Nolan said. “It’s nice to know they can emulate those qualities.”

Nolan said the students in the program just needed to be exposed to the right opportunities and have really let their skills shine.

Alex Tinnell, a junior who started in the program last year, said he likes having the chance to help the animals, and it’s a chance for him to meet people.

“Anything they ask me to do, I do. I am more than willing to help,” said Tinnell, who added that his favorite part is cleaning and feeding the horses.

Sophomore Mike Nosse said donating the funds felt good.

“I’m learning how to work harder,” Nosse said.

Nolan said she hopes the students in the program will take the skills they learn and use them to get jobs.

“It’s nice to see different kids step into the spotlight when you don’t expect to see those kids in the spotlight,” Nolan said.



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