A few weeks ago, Doug Stvan stood in front of Judge John Kinsella in DuPage County Courtroom 4000 for the first time since the official had sentenced the Naperville man 2½ years ago.
It was “pretty nerve wracking being up there because of past memories,” 32-year-old Stvan recalled.
But it was also a momentous, and positive, occasion.
This recent appearance before the judge was Stvan’s final day of his four-year probation.
And while standing in that courtroom, Stvan said, he handed the judge the column I’d written about the former heroin addict in May — about how he had to face “my own kryptonite” when he drove through Chicago’s West Side a couple years earlier to audition for a role in the “Man of Steel” movie that was to be shot in the area.
Just a few months clean at the time, Stvan “knew I had to face” the temptation of those dark and evil streets where, for years, he’d drive to from his middle-class Naperville life in order to purchase the heroin he knew was destroying him.
The column was about how he credited his faith in the Lord as well as this judge for not giving up on him and allowing him to be able to stay clean for over three years.
Despite Stvan’s repeated overdoses, rehab stints and a lengthy arrest record, Judge Kinsella had lowered his bail on that day and kept him out of jail.
And Stvan wanted to personally thank him for what he’d done.
But Kinsella, instead, shook the former addict’s hand and thanked him “for making his day.”
He sees so many people go through his courts because of heroin, Stvan told me, and it just made him feel good to finally see a success story.
Stvan said he later learned that right down the hall in another courtroom, a friend he’d known in high school who was battling heroin and had got caught stealing had been sentenced to prison.
“I could not help but wonder why I got a chance and this man didn’t,” he said.
Stvan is convinced the only way he’s been able to beat the addiction that controlled him since he was a student at Naperville North High School was his faith in the Lord. He has been featured on local television shows and he often speaks to groups about the power of faith and how it can help pull you from the abyss, even when other attempts fail.
He also knows the power of second chances.
“I wanted the judge to know he made the right decision with me,” said Stvan. “And one of his best he ever made.”