Sanchez (seen above on the right with our son Charlie this past spring) is almost like a son to us, and now he on his way to college at Illinois State!
We are helping him raise funds for the remaining college fees (after aid and scholarships), room and board, books, and clothing.
John, Charlie, and I met Sanchez when he was four years old. We used to see him outside all the time, playing and riding bikes along our street, on the northwest side.
One Halloween, sweet little Sanchez rang our doorbell and asked us if we would take him trick or treating. "Where's your mom?" I asked. He answered by cautiously pointing to her building down the block.
We didn't know then that his family situation was very complicated. His mom had given him up, but still lived nearby with his half-brother; his dad had been a drug dealer and was murdered before he was born; and his grandma was raising him on her own, yet still working full time. He was mostly home alone from the age of three.
Sanchez had (and still has) a smile that could light up a room. We took to him immediately. The whole neighborhood grew to know and love him, and we all called him "Woody," after the friendly Tom Hanks character in "Toy Story."
We started sending Sanchez to YMCA camp in the summers. He often came over for dinner or just to hang out, and we helped his grandma whenever we could.
When we moved to the suburbs, Sanchez came to stay with us on weekends. He and Charlie always got along very well.
Sanchez lived with us a couple of times when he was a teenager. It was a challenge! He missed his grandma, and he often felt uncomfortable being the only black kid in our predominantly white neighborhood. We also had a hard time adjusting to having a teenager in the house. He still attended school in the city, and managed to take the bus and the trains on his own (he has always been incredibly resourceful and independant).
Toward the end of high school, Sanchez started running with the wrong crowd. We lost touch with him, for the most part. He fell into trouble and went to juvenile detention twice. However, he eventually pulled himself away from the influence of gangs, and back into our lives.
He was actually just awarded a scholarship from the Audy Home, where he was incarcerated, for becoming a role model for other kids.
Sanchez is part of our family. We love him and are so proud of all his achievements. Everyone who meets him is impressed by his charm, his smarts, and his incredible perserverance. He is a truly remarkable person.
Sanchez is now 20 years old, and, after two years at City Colleges in Chicago, he is off to ISU to study business.
My hubby has mentored him in so many ways, and Sanchez aspires to return to Chicago for a career in accounting/business, similar to John's side of the family. This summer, Sanchez has been taking Accounting and Statistics at City Colleges, while washing dishes at a Hyde Park restaurant.
Sanchez is on a positive, hopeful path, and we are incredibly proud of him!
Your support means the world to Sanchez and to us. We will ensure that all of the money we raise goes directly to his education and expenses. We have created a special college account (in our name) for Sanchez, from which we will be making all of his school purchases. We'll be responsible for the withdrawal of funds from this campaign.
From the bottom of our hearts: Thank you so much for supporting Sanchez!
Stephanie Rogers and John Raftery
- Gene & Lucille Raftery
- Ken Raftery
- Don Kempf
- Lee Klawans
- Daniel Park
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