Pulse: 'Today' show, lottery win and more
When the team from NBC’s “Today” show needed someone special for a room makeover, they turned to Naperville resident Kelly Knox.
On Sept. 19, Knox, the Chicago-area director of Special Spaces, was in the Big Apple with Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist to make a little boy’s dream room a reality.
“We show kids that people outside of their immediate circle want their lives to be more comfortable, (and want) them to have a safe place to call their own,” Knox said.
Gianni Gentile, a New York boy battling leukemia, was chosen for a Special Spaces room makeover.
“It was wonderful to experience the day with the ‘Today’ show,” Knox said. “The best part of the experience was seeing Gianni’s face. He could have cared less that it was being filmed or that ‘famous’ people were doing his room; he was just happy to know that people cared and that is what we do.”
Knox founded the Chicago chapter of Special Spaces in 2012, a nonprofit organization that provides bedroom makeovers for kids battling life-threatening illnesses. She is always looking for volunteers and donations to make the projects successful.
To view the segment visit www.today.com/video/today/53051258#53051258.
For more information on how you can volunteer or make a donation, email email@example.com.
Chance of lifetime
Teen makes Chicago debut
When audiences attend the Chicago Symphony Orchestra production of “Macbeth,” they will see — and hear — Naperville resident Katelyn Casey.
The Neuqua Valley High School senior and member of Young Naperville Singers landed a role in the fall production that is under the direction of internationally acclaimed Maestro Riccardo Muti.
“Getting cast in this production is a dream come true,” said the 17-year-old. “Even though my part is very small, having the chance to work with Maestro Muti and all the incredible leads is a once-in-a-lifetime (experience).”
“Macbeth” takes place Sept. 28 and Oct. 1, 4 and 6 at Symphony Hall in downtown Chicago.
“Without all the support from Young Naperville Singers and the Neuqua Valley choir department, none of this would have been possible, and I am so thankful for that.”
For more information, visit www.cso.org
‘Days’ of advice
Train for your body type, Zucker says
You’re not the only one who gets to the gym and wonders, now what?
Arianne Zucker — or, as “Days of our Lives” fans know her, Nicole Walker — found herself in the same position. Around age 30, she knew she had to start working out, but wasn’t sure what steps to take.
“I wanted to go to the gym, but didn’t have the knowledge,” says Zucker during a telephone interview.
A friend suggested hiring a personal trainer, and so she spent the next two years working with one. “I was shedding, shredding,” she says with a laugh. And the results? “Holy smokes.”
Now she knows what she wants to do at the gym, which has cut the amount of time she has to spend there.
“I do certain things that will work for my body type,” she says, recommending that as a way to see maximum results. She and a friend have been doing CrossFit together.
Zucker talks about working out in “Days of our Lives: Better Living” (Sourcebooks, $34.99). The book gives fans an insight into how Zucker and the other cast members stay in shape and live well. There are recipes and workout routines as well as advice on how to achieve balance in a stress-filled life and style tips.
She and other cast members will sign the book 2 p.m. Saturday at Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson, in Naperville. Cast members scheduled to be at the signings are: Deidre Hall, Shawn Christian, Arianne Zucker, Galen Gering, Chrishell Stause and Freddie Smith.
His lucky day
Change of plans leads to $150,000 lotto win
Brian Leisten won the lottery because of a change of plans.
“I was supposed to be away in Michigan visiting family that week, but we decided not to travel ,” Leisten said. “How lucky that I was home in Illinois, not up in Michigan, and bought my Lucky Day Lotto ticket!”
The Naperville resident won $150,000 when the numbers on his ticket — 05, 15, 16, 22, 23 — were an exact match in the Aug. 21Lucky Day Lotto evening drawing.
Leisten works for the Illinois Tollway and has lived in Naperville for 26 years. He plans to use his winnings to pay bills and invest for retirement.
He bought his winning Quick Pick ticket at Circle K, 1707 S. Washington St., in Naperville. The retailer will receive a $1,500 bonus, equal to 1 percent of the prize amount, for selling the winning ticket.
Just good at public speaking
Recently, Naperville residents Cassie Moore and Mike Vein became the toast of the town — not in the celebrity sense, mind you, but as winners of the Area Toastmaster Contest on Sept. 21 at Naperville City Hall.
Both are members of a local chapter of the nonprofit group that operates clubs throughout the world to help others improve public speaking, communication and leadership skills.
Vein said he won the Best Evaluation division, which requires that contestants hear a short speech and then prepare a critique of it within a few minutes to help the speaker improve on what he just did. Vein said he doesn’t personally fear public speaking but joined the group three years ago to develop his speaking and leadership abilities.
“We work on prepared speeches, providing oral evaluations, and do ‘table topics’ or off the cuff things,” he said. “I’m not doing this because I avoided speech class in high school.”
Moore won the best humorous speech after talking for almost 7 minutes about a true event that happened to her involving a disastrous spa experience.
“I called it, “The Dead Sea Mud Wrap Spa — I Wish I Were Dead” speech, which was a truly personal story about a terrible spa day,” she said. “I still feel my heart pounding when I get up there, but on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being I need Valium, I’ve dropped from about a six on the anxiety scale to a four.”
Both winners will move on to the division contest, followed by district competition if they advance.
National award worth singing about
Young Naperville Singers have even more to sing about. Recently, the group’s Chamber Singers earned second place nationally in the youth/high school chorus division of the 2013 American Prize competition.
“This award is a tremendous honor,” said Angie Johnson, Young Naperville Singers music director. “Our choirs are filled with extraordinary young people who are passionate, dedicated and love to sing.
The chorus was selected from applications reviewed this summer from all across the United States. The American Prize is a series of competitions designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings.
“We are delighted with the award and will continue to invest in the lives of children,” Johnson said. “Choral music is a wonderful tool to build community, build leaders and build character.”