Posted by Al Anile
Left to right: Dave Wasserman, Jason Wicha, Rob Paddor, Ray Eichenlaub,
Rob Paddor, Board Member at Project Hero received a grant check of $800 from The Rotary Club of Skokie Valley.
Founded in 2008, Project Hero is a groundbreaking national non-profit organization dedicated to helping Veterans and First Responders affected by PTSD, TBI and injury achieve rehabilitation, recovery and resilience in their daily lives and increasing awareness to combat the national mental health emergency posed by PTSD and TBI. 
Project Hero programs including Ride 2 Recovery events and Project Hero Community Centers work by producing positive outcomes at lower costs and reducing drug-based therapies.  The organization also builds and provides adaptive bikes to physically-challenged and injured Veterans and First Responders and founded the Project Hero Research Institute for Mental Health to support clinical research programs in 2016. 
Ride 2 Recovery started with a telephone call to John Wordin from a recreational therapist with the Veterans Administration (VA).  The therapist thought cycling would be an alternative therapy for PTSD and TBI treatment as well as physical injury rehabilitation. Based on John’s success as a professional cyclist and founder of the Fitness Challenge Foundation,  the therapist thought he was the right person to create the program the VA had in mind. 
Wordin launched the first Ride 2 Recovery Challenge event in 2008 with fourteen riders and no support staff.   By 2010, the organization was producing six Challenges events across the US with an average of 170 participants per ride and a full support staff including the Texas Challenge from San Antonio to Dallas, the Memorial Challenge from Washington DC to Virginia Beach, the Rocky Mountain Challenge from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Colorado Springs, the Great Lakes Challenge from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, the Golden State Challenge from San Francisco to Los Angeles; and the Florida Challenge from Tampa to Jacksonville. 
In 2011, R2R grew to seven Challenge events including Texas, Memorial, Florida, Golden State, Great Lakes, the 9/11 American Challenge on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, which began at Ground Zero in New York City, rode through Shanksville, PA and finished at the Pentagon and The Normandy Challenge, the first European Challenge event which traced the steps of D-Day and subsequent battles.
In 2012, R2R’s Battle of the Bulge Challenge hosted 147 riders as they rode through Belgium and Luxembourg, in addition to Texas, Memorial, and Golden State Challenges, and the organization added the Gulf Coast Challenge from New Orleans to Tallahassee, the Minuteman Challenge from Boston to New York and the Bluegrass Challenge from Cincinnati to Nashville. The Challenge events became so popular the organization established a limit of 200 participants per event and today they sell out early and have lengthy waiting lists, attesting to the power of the Ride 2 Recovery programs.
Project Hero has helped tens of thousands of our Healing Heroes at no cost to participants through Ride 2 Recovery cycling events, community-based programs in more than 50 cities throughout the US and by supporting research. 
Jason Wicha (left) Al Rigoni (right)
Al Rigoni, Treasurer at the Sommer Foundation received a grant check of $1,000 from The Rotary Club of Skokie Valley.
Thanks to the sponsors and participants of the Sommer Memorial Golf Tournament from 1993 to 1998; we were able to invest enough proceeds to provide for the future educational pursuits of Anne and Jay Sommer. Our initial mission had been met thanks to the support of many kind people who joined us for our first six tournaments.
It was time for a new mission. We decided as a group to transition to providing scholarships to high school seniors who had endured the hardship of losing a parent early in life. We would distribute the scholarships via the newly incorporated Sommer Foundation. High school seniors would compete for a Sommer Foundation Scholarship based upon academic achievement, participation in volunteer and school activities, employment experience, and financial need. Through 2015, 90 scholarships have been provided to students who have gone on to succeed at several different colleges or universities.
When the Sommer Foundation Board of Directors was established, Bernie Oglietti and Lynn Sommer joined Joe Cavallaro, Bob Kiely, Al Rigoni, and myself. As the success of the Foundation continues to grow, the decision was made to expand the Board of Directors by three. Robert Irvin, Carol Sente, and Ryan Waller were subsequently elected to these openings. In October 2010, a vacancy to the Board occurred when Carol Sente’s term expired. The Foundation is thankful for Carol’s years of service, and while she will be missed, we were fortunate to receive a commitment from long-time supporter, Peter Koukos, to join the team. In 2012, Anne Sommer and Katie Limardi joined the Board of Directors, continuing the family legacy.
It has been an honor and a pleasure for those of us serving on the Sommer Foundation Board of Directors to be involved in the pursuit of our mission. We are so grateful to all of our sponsors and participants for having a positive impact on the lives of future leaders and for helping us remember our friend, Bill Sommer.
Left to right: Jason Wicha and Alyse Cohen Burman
Alyse Cohen Burman, Education Foundation supporting the Students of Niles Township, received a grant check of $300 from The Rotary Club of Skokie Valley.
The Niles Township District for Special Education (NTDSE) serves the school districts in the North Cook County, Illinois communities of Morton Grove, Niles, Lincolnwood and Skokie. These communities represent the first township north of the city of Chicago and are approximately ten and a half square miles in size. The aggregate population of these four communities is approximately 123,000 people. 
The communities and school districts in Niles Township have access to an abundance of educational, cultural and employment opportunities. Niles Township has a strong industrial and commercial base. The township represents an area rich with attractive residential neighborhoods, churches, synagogues, schools, libraries, parks, pools and community services. It is close to many indoor and outdoor shopping malls and within 12 miles of both downtown Chicago and O'Hare Airport. Lutheran General Hospital, Rush North Shore Hospital, and Evanston Hospital are three of the major medical facilities in the area. The Niles Township communities are bounded to the west by Park Ridge, the east by Evanston, and to the north by Glenview and Wilmette. There are fourteen different universities in the nearby area including such major universities as Northwestern University, Loyola University, DePaul University, Chicago State University, University of Illinois-Chicago Circle Campus, University of Chicago, National-Louis University, Roosevelt University, and Northeastern Illinois University. 
The many services offered to residents, as well as the competitive real estate tax rates, makes Niles Township a most desirable location to live and raise a family.
Left to right: Jason Wicha and Janice Cha
Janice Cha, Board Member at Community Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.) received a grant check of $700 from The Rotary Club of Skokie Valley.
Since 1987, Community Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.™) has been promoting adoptions and care for dogs and cats. The all-volunteer, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization serves all of the communities of Chicago’s North Shore, including Evanston, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Glenview, Northfield, Northbrook, Niles, Morton Grove and the north side of the City of Chicago.
Our new Adoption Center is scheduled to open this year at 4927 Main Street in Skokie, so that C.A.R.E. can offer a combined adoption center and foster home model to better serve the needs of homeless animals as well as potential adopters and the community.