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Regional’s ‘Miracles’ story takes first at NINA Awards

The Regional News ran away with one award at the Northern Illinois Newspaper Awards dinner last Thursday at the University Suite at the Holmes Student Center in DeKalb.

Former Regional News reporter Jeff Vorva won first place in the Best Sports Story, Nondaily category for a feature titled “Miracles can happen.”
The story was about former Sandburg High School athlete Lukas Verzbicas’s return to competitive running just a few months after he suffered life-threatening injuries after a bike accident in Colorado and doctors told him he might never walk again.
The judges said: “Writer Jeff Vorva captures the essence of an ultimate human interest story — from elite high school runner to life-threatening accident to reincarnation. Pertinent quotes from others sources, research and details all enhance this.”
Vorva was named editor of the Reporter in August.
“Lukas had the horrific and tough job of creating the story,” Vorva said. “I had the easy job of writing about it.”
Earlier in the year, the story took second place in the B Division of the Illinois Press Association contest.
Regional and Reporter Sports editor Ken Karrson also brought home hardware in the IPA for second place in Division B headline writing for “Kamp fire doesn’t warm Knights” for a story about Chicago Christian basketball player’s 33 points in a losing effort against Aurora Central Catholic.
Former Reporter Editor Jason Maholy took third place in the same category with his news headline “Oak Lawn gives bigger teeth to dog ordinance.” The judges said it was “very clever.”
Maholy also won an honorable mention for Division B Spot News Photo for his image of “Random Hearts in the Snow.”
The judges said: “Not sure this is exactly spot news but the judges had to look at it more than once, which makes a compelling photo.”
Vorva was also a finalist for the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Award for a news feature on Palos Park shooting victim Brian Reed’s decision to live after suffering horrific injuries that have left him paralyzed.

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