Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Olympian living the American Dream

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By Ray Hanania

Evita Griskenas is the American dream.

She’s a young woman from Orland Park who attended Sandburg High School and today is one of the leading members of the American Olympic team competing this year in the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which will be held July 23 through Aug. 8.

Griskenas is a powerful representative for the southwest region of Chicagoland. Although Chicago may be faltering, the rest of the region needs to stand up and give her cheer and the “hometown” support she deserves and has earned.

RayHanania 1

Ray Hanania

She has been a hard worker, never giving up. She is one the world’s top rhythmic gymnasts, an athletic form of dance, ballet and coordinated performance that is amazing to watch.

Griskenas started out loving to play with ribbons and turned it into one of the most remarkable Olympic performances you can watch. She is an Olympic ballerina in her performances with amazing agility and style.

Everyone in our region needs to put her on the front burner and cheer her on, not just individually but as communities and as governments.

I met Evita and her parents, Sigitas and Olga, in 2016 when she was competing to become a member of the U.S. Olympic team. She was training every day, a strenuous grind that left no room for normal teenage fun, and came very close to making the team back then.

Griskenas appeared on WGN-AM’s top morning radio show with host Steve Cochran and co-host Mary Sandburg Boyle that year. Cochran had a special program each week that showcased the achievements of young people called “Kid of the Week.”

Griskenas, whose parents come from Lithuania, graduated from Sandburg High School, one of the best high schools in the state. She’s not the only Olympian the school has produced. Most recently it was Kendall Coyne, an Olympic skater who is now married to another Sandburg graduate and Super Bowl Champion Michael Schofield.

I reached out to our local elected officials from the Orland Park and southwest suburban region about Evita’s accomplishments. She’s one of our home-grown champions. Here’s what many who took the time to respond said:

Former Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman: “We have so much great talent in the Orland Park and southwest suburban region who need the support of our local communities. She makes us all proud and gives us more important reason to watch and enjoy the Olympics this summer. I’ll be cheering her on as I am sure everyone in our region will.”

Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady: “Congratulations to Evita Griskenas, who will be representing the USA in the Tokyo Olympics. The whole Orland Township community will be cheering her on to bring home the Gold Medal. #OrlandTownshipProud #GofortheGold.”

Palos Heights Mayor Robert Straz: “It is great that Evita continues the lineage of individuals from our area representing the United States to the world.”

Orland Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan said: ” My sincerest congratulations to Orland Park resident and Carl Sandburg graduate Evita Griskenas for earning her spot on the U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Team! What an amazing accomplishment! Best of luck in Tokyo 2020. All of Orland Park is behind you!! #D230proud #orlandparkproud.”

Griskenas has a lot of supporters cheering her on along with the entire USA Olympic Team this summer.

Also…

Check out the interview my son Aaron Hanania did with WGN meteorologist Paul Konrad at AaronHanania.com. Konrad is funny and a great journalist, too, at a news station now tops in Chicagoland. He also did a podcast on Freddy’s Pizzeria, one of the best in the west suburbs. I’m trying to get him to take me to Manny’s Deli to do one there so I can enjoy it with corned beef, latke and matzo ball soup … Of all the members of the Chicago City Council, I am very impressed by the votes and outspokenness of 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez . He constantly puts the interests of his constituents, and all of Chicago’s residents, ahead of the political partisanship from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office. Lightfoot has been very disrespectful to Lopez and thereby disrespectful to the 3,000-plus residents in his ward who voted for him in 2019. In fact, Lopez would be a great candidate for mayor, certainly a better one than Lightfoot … It was sad for me to learn that 55 of my 1971 classmates from Reavis High School have died. I attended four high schools including Bowen, Little Flower and Bogan. I can’t imagine what the real total is for me … Finally, my Yiddish father-in-law, Jerry Resnick, taught me an important lesson about Chicago sports. When we met, he asked me if I wanted to go to a “Khubz Game.” I asked him, “What the heck is a Khubz Game?” He told me it was a Yiddish word that means someone who promises everything but fails to deliver at the end of the season. Oy vey iz mir ! …

Check out more of Ray Hanania’s work at Hanania.com.

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