INGALLS ST MAM AD 728x90px 03 30 21
Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Olympian living the American Dream

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.

Local News

Isra Syouri, 13, of Palos Hills, daughter of Steve's Bite owners, Sufian "Steve" and Kifah Syouri, cut the ribbon during the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the restaurant at 11906 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Heights. (Photos by Kelly White)

Steve’s Bite holds grand opening

By Kelly White Palos Heights welcomed in a new business last weekend. Steve’s Bite, 11906 S. Harlem Ave. in Palos Heights, held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on October 15. The store officially opened its doors over the summer, and owners Sufian “Steve” and Kifah Syouri said they could not be happier to…

Celebrating the naming of Rev. Jeffrey Clemons to the Lyons Township Mental Health Commission are (from left) executive director Ron Melka, Trustee Mike Porfirio, Rev. Clemons and state Sen. Steve Landek. (Staff photo)

Summit’s Rev. Clemons named to township’s Mental Health Commission

By Steve Metsch The Township of Lyons has a new member on its Mental Health Commission. The Rev. Jeffrey Clemons, of Antioch Baptist Church, 7513 W. 64th St., Summit, is joining the commission. His appointment won unanimous approval from the township board at its meeting on Oct. 12. He is the first African-American on the…

Carson Kukulski, 2, of Palos Heights, was happy to attend Lake Katherine's first-ever Oak-tober Fest at the nature center, 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights. (Photos by Kelly White)

Lake Katherine pays homage to the mighty oak

By Kelly White Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens celebrated the oak tree during the month of October with a cleverly named, Oak-tober Fest last weekend. “We wanted to have an event that was more of a fall festival in addition to the Monarch Celebration that we hold in September,” Gareth Blakesley, Director and…

Karen Sala

Check your smoke detector batteries

By Karen Sala Your correspondent in Gage Park (773) 471-1429 • [email protected] It’s October. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors. I woke up to the unpleasant chirping of one of my smoke alarms the other morning at about 4 a.m. Thankfully I had a 9-volt battery, so I was able to change it and go…

Mary Stanek

Día celebrations coming this month

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated especially by people of Mexican heritage. It is a joyful celebration, rather than mourning. Family and friends pay respects to those who have died. Traditions include building altars…

Peggy Zabicki

Room to grow at new dollar store

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 I finally went to the new Dollar Tree at 8444 S. Pulaski. It is a very big store and parking lot. It has the usual fun and useful dollar store items. Everything is still $1. There are lots of empty shelves and room for…

Kathy Headley

Unique collection in need of a caring home

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 As you may remember, shortly before the pandemic began, St. Rita of Cascia Parish invited Myra Kathryn Richardson to showcase some exhibits from her Mary Eve Thorsen Museum collection in the parish hall. Items from the Dick and…

Kendall Coyne, shown at a past celebration at Sandburg High School, is the 2021 IBAM Person of the Year. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Coyne Schofield to be honored as IBAM’s Person of the Year

By Jeff Vorva Palos Heights hockey legend Kendall Coyne Schofield is picking up a huge award Friday night and it doesn’t have much to do with hockey. Schofield was named the Irish Books, Art and Music Person of the Year and will be honored at the group’s 13th Awards Gala Oct. 22 at the American…

Jim Sexton, the former Evergreen Park mayor, shows his sign for the drive given in honor at the grand opening of the new baseball and softball fields. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Evergreen Park welcomes own fields of dreams and honors Sexton

By Jeff Vorva Brand new fields and a retired mayor were the stars of the show on Oct. 14. Evergreen Park High School had a grand opening of its new turfed baseball and softball fields. The fields were used in late spring, but this event was to celebrate the fields and show them off to…

Chicago 3-year-old Tyler Myslinski, (left) and his 5-year-old brother Jason fight for the ball during an open house at the Wintrust Sports Complex Saturday in Bedford Park. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Bedford Park’s Wintrust Sports Complex is a ‘one-stop’ monster

By Jeff Vorva The Wintrust Sports Complex has not even held its grand opening yet in Bedford Park, but it’s already bringing ESPN to town in July. The facility’s general manager, Wade Walsh, said the American Cornhole League will host its Final Chase at the new site and ESPN will be broadcasting the finals on…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
DVN First United Realtors House Ad
Isra Syouri, 13, of Palos Hills, daughter of Steve's Bite owners, Sufian "Steve" and Kifah Syouri, cut the ribbon during the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the restaurant at 11906 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Heights. (Photos by Kelly White)

Steve’s Bite holds grand opening

By Kelly White Palos Heights welcomed in a new business last weekend. Steve’s Bite, 11906 S. Harlem Ave. in Palos Heights, held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on October 15. The store officially opened its doors over the summer, and owners Sufian “Steve” and Kifah Syouri said they could not be happier to…

Celebrating the naming of Rev. Jeffrey Clemons to the Lyons Township Mental Health Commission are (from left) executive director Ron Melka, Trustee Mike Porfirio, Rev. Clemons and state Sen. Steve Landek. (Staff photo)

Summit’s Rev. Clemons named to township’s Mental Health Commission

By Steve Metsch The Township of Lyons has a new member on its Mental Health Commission. The Rev. Jeffrey Clemons, of Antioch Baptist Church, 7513 W. 64th St., Summit, is joining the commission. His appointment won unanimous approval from the township board at its meeting on Oct. 12. He is the first African-American on the…

Carson Kukulski, 2, of Palos Heights, was happy to attend Lake Katherine's first-ever Oak-tober Fest at the nature center, 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights. (Photos by Kelly White)

Lake Katherine pays homage to the mighty oak

By Kelly White Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens celebrated the oak tree during the month of October with a cleverly named, Oak-tober Fest last weekend. “We wanted to have an event that was more of a fall festival in addition to the Monarch Celebration that we hold in September,” Gareth Blakesley, Director and…

Karen Sala

Check your smoke detector batteries

By Karen Sala Your correspondent in Gage Park (773) 471-1429 • [email protected] It’s October. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors. I woke up to the unpleasant chirping of one of my smoke alarms the other morning at about 4 a.m. Thankfully I had a 9-volt battery, so I was able to change it and go…

Mary Stanek

Día celebrations coming this month

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated especially by people of Mexican heritage. It is a joyful celebration, rather than mourning. Family and friends pay respects to those who have died. Traditions include building altars…

Peggy Zabicki

Room to grow at new dollar store

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 I finally went to the new Dollar Tree at 8444 S. Pulaski. It is a very big store and parking lot. It has the usual fun and useful dollar store items. Everything is still $1. There are lots of empty shelves and room for…

Kathy Headley

Unique collection in need of a caring home

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 As you may remember, shortly before the pandemic began, St. Rita of Cascia Parish invited Myra Kathryn Richardson to showcase some exhibits from her Mary Eve Thorsen Museum collection in the parish hall. Items from the Dick and…

Kendall Coyne, shown at a past celebration at Sandburg High School, is the 2021 IBAM Person of the Year. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Coyne Schofield to be honored as IBAM’s Person of the Year

By Jeff Vorva Palos Heights hockey legend Kendall Coyne Schofield is picking up a huge award Friday night and it doesn’t have much to do with hockey. Schofield was named the Irish Books, Art and Music Person of the Year and will be honored at the group’s 13th Awards Gala Oct. 22 at the American…

Jim Sexton, the former Evergreen Park mayor, shows his sign for the drive given in honor at the grand opening of the new baseball and softball fields. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Evergreen Park welcomes own fields of dreams and honors Sexton

By Jeff Vorva Brand new fields and a retired mayor were the stars of the show on Oct. 14. Evergreen Park High School had a grand opening of its new turfed baseball and softball fields. The fields were used in late spring, but this event was to celebrate the fields and show them off to…

Chicago 3-year-old Tyler Myslinski, (left) and his 5-year-old brother Jason fight for the ball during an open house at the Wintrust Sports Complex Saturday in Bedford Park. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Bedford Park’s Wintrust Sports Complex is a ‘one-stop’ monster

By Jeff Vorva The Wintrust Sports Complex has not even held its grand opening yet in Bedford Park, but it’s already bringing ESPN to town in July. The facility’s general manager, Wade Walsh, said the American Cornhole League will host its Final Chase at the new site and ESPN will be broadcasting the finals on…

Cook County Sheriff ad.2
Reporter Mecy Circle House Ad