Endurance icon Louis Scripa Jr.

Severely wounded by shrapnel during the Vietnam War, Louis Scripa Jr. battled his way back, establishing half a dozen fitness endurance records in as many years. 104,538 jumping jacks in 24 hours. 41,788 leg raises in 12 hours. 110,015 crunches in 17 hours. 133,581 crunches in 30 hours. 160,974 sit-ups in 82 hours. 70,715 sit-ups in 24 hours or less. If these sound like ridiculous, “there’s no way a person can do that” numbers, think again. They’re all fitness endurance feats accomplished by Air Force veteran Louis “Lou” Scripa Jr. between 1986 and 1992, and acknowledged by the Guinness World …

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St. Frances Cabrini

Renowned throughout the world for her inspirational missionary work, St. Frances Cabrini had a special place in her heart for the Windy City. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is revered in Catholic circles for her holiness and fervent devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and she is known throughout the world for establishing dozens of hospitals, schools and orphanages in 16 countries. Although her work spanned two continents, Mother Cabrini had a special connection to Chicago, tirelessly serving the immigrant Italian community there for decades and eventually passing away in a hospital she helped to create. A U.S. citizen since …

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Standup comedian Tom Dreesen

Lifting himself out of poverty by his own bootstraps, Tom Dreesen made it to the very pinnacle of standup comedy by staying in touch with his humble roots. Tom Dreesen grew up in a shack with no hot water, started working at age 10 and, as a young comedian, slept in a car for three weeks. In that very same lifetime, he appeared on “The Tonight Show” more than 60 times and spent 13 years riding in private jets and limousines as the opening act for Frank Sinatra. Like the Sinatra song “My Way,” Dreesen — who is half Irish and …

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Entertainment legend Tony Ocean

Three decades and 8,000 performances later, Tony Ocean continues to chart his own musical course, attracting legions of fans in the process. As Tony Ocean belted out the final notes of “My Way” to a roar of applause on May 29 at the Des Plaines Theatre, he surveyed his band onstage and his wife and family in the audience and, amid a shower of roses, wiped a tear from his eye. And why not? Ocean had just finished his 8,000th performance. There has been plenty of glitz along the way: a run in Las Vegas, a performance in Aruba, and …

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Bowling legend Carmen Salvino

One of the greatest bowlers of all time, Carmen Salvino recently celebrated 70 years of unparalleled success in a sport he loves and helped to transform. In baseball and in life, “three strikes” are typically a bad thing. But for world-class bowler Carmen Salvino, it’s just another day at the office. He began his career as a professional bowler at 19 years of age, and 70 years later, he’s only now looking back at just how many pins he’s knocked down. Carmen was born in the Taylor Street neighborhood of Chicago near Flournoy and Ashland. His father was from Calabria …

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Remembering Renato Turano

Born of humble origins, Renato Turano attained dizzying professional, civic and political heights while remaining unfailingly modest, generous and kind. A wave of sorrow swept across the Chicago-area Italian-American community in early December as news spread of the passing of Renato Turano. One of our most beloved and respected leaders, Turano built a legacy of generosity, service and leadership that may never see its equal. A co-creator with his brothers of one of the largest artisan bread manufacturers in the nation, Turano made history in 2006 when he became the first American citizen to serve in the Italian Senate. Those …

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