WBEZ | StoryCorps Chicago http://www.wbez.org/tags/storycorps-chicago Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Friends bond over grief http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/friends-bond-over-grief-110224 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/140523%20StoryCorps%20Julie%20Karen.JPG" style="float: left; height: 233px; width: 350px; margin: 5px;" title="Friends Julie Knausenberger and Karen Williams interviewed each other at the Chicago StoryCorps Booth. (Photo courtesy of StoryCorps)" />Julie Knausenberger was ten when her dad died as a by-stander in a drive-by shooting. Years later, her sister died of a heroin overdose.</p><p>Karen Williams&rsquo; dad died of a heart attack just before she turned ten. And her sister died in a car accident.</p><p>The two friends recently interviewed each other at the Chicago StoryCorps Booth and talked about how those deaths allowed them to forge a lasting friendship.</p><p>The first time they met was at a gathering for students of their graduate school in Washington, DC. The night they met, Karen told Julie she was going to meet her deceased sister&rsquo;s best friend. Karen said, &ldquo;Usually when someone&rsquo;s genuinely being friendly and asking questions to get to know your family, I tend to do this apologetic thing where I&rsquo;m like: You&rsquo;re going to ask me these really kind questions and I&rsquo;m going to have to say yep, my father also died&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>And instead, Julie said, &ldquo;Oh my God! Your sister died too!? Your dad died too?!&rdquo;</p><p>Her sister had recently died and she wanted to know the details of what had happened to Karen&rsquo;s sister and dad. Was it sudden? Were they sick? Was it traumatic?</p><p>Karen was taken aback by the conversation. It was the first time that she could talk to someone openly about their deaths without feeling guilty about bringing the other person down.</p><p>And with that, the two began a friendship that has stood the test of time. They have helped each other along the way with a healthy doses of humor and honesty.<br />&ldquo;You were the first friend I made that really took me as I was and reminded me that I have a lot of cool things to offer to other people,&rdquo; Julie said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m really glad that we found each other.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, I feel really glad that we ended up in the same place at the same time.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 23 May 2014 08:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/friends-bond-over-grief-110224 Black firefighter follows in the footsteps of his father http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/black-firefighter-follows-footsteps-his-father-110019 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/140411 StoryCorps DeKalb Wolcotts (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p><em>Dekalb Walcott III and Dekalb Walcott Jr. (Photo courtesy of StoryCorps)</em></p><p>For more than three decades Dekalb Walcott Jr was one of the few African Americans in the Chicago Fire Department.</p><p>His son, Dekalb Walcott III, always dreamed of following in his footsteps.</p><p>&quot;A lot of young black people didn&rsquo;t really get the pleasure of growing up with a father,&quot; Dekalb Walcott III said. &quot;You know, I&rsquo;m from Chicago where we had the Bulls back in the &rsquo;90s and Michael Jordan was famous.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Everybody wanted to be like Mike, but for me, myself, I wanted Dekalb Walcott Jr. &mdash; that was my Michael Jordan.&rdquo;</p><p>To hear more about their family history and the importance of father figures in the black community, click on the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/black-firefighter-follows-footsteps-his-father-110019 Chicago man loses 200 pounds to give back to Little Village http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chicago-man-loses-200-pounds-give-back-little-village-109972 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/storycorps.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Miguel Blancarte, Jr. is a proud resident of Chicago&#39;s Little Village neighborhood. A first generation college graduate from Brown University, he now works at a law firm specializing in immigration.</p><p>Miguel says the one thing he&rsquo;s always struggled with is his weight. It wasn&rsquo;t until his doctor warned him that he wouldn&rsquo;t live past his mid-40s that he knew something had to change:</p><p>&ldquo;Honestly the thought of losing anything more than 30 pounds was just not a reality to me,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But Miguel managed to lose not just 30, but 200 pounds in all. He then ran his first ever 5k race to to raise money for Enlace, the local community center that provides health and social services in Little Village.</p><p>To hear how he lost all that weight so he could give back to his community, check out the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.</em><br />&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 16:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chicago-man-loses-200-pounds-give-back-little-village-109972 After suicide attempt, college student helps others deal with mental illness http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/after-suicide-attempt-college-student-helps-others-deal-mental-illness-109943 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.43.50 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Three years ago, Wesleyan college student Molly Jenkins tried to take her own life&mdash;twice.</p><p>Molly told her mom that her suicidal thoughts first began while recovering from a major surgery that left her bedridden.</p><p>After 6 months of therapy at Chicago&rsquo;s Rush Hospital, she returned to college and became a mental health advocate.</p><p><strong>Molly: &ldquo;It was really important for me to come out with this stamp on my forehead that said, &lsquo;I&rsquo;ve attempted suicide and I don&rsquo;t care what you guys think&rsquo; because I knew there were other people who, like me, were suffering in silence.&rdquo;</strong></p><p>To hear Molly and her mother discuss this trying period in their lives for the first time, check out the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer. </em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/after-suicide-attempt-college-student-helps-others-deal-mental-illness-109943 On day of his bond, Chicago man's actions lead to 25 more years in prison http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/day-his-bond-chicago-mans-actions-lead-25-more-years-prison-109861 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DSC_9918.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Twelve years ago, gang member Carlos &ldquo;Bear&rdquo; Rocha of Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side was imprisoned for possession of a weapon. On the day of his bond, he and another inmate had a disagreement that turned tragically violent. Bear was sentenced to another 25 years behind bars. It wasn&rsquo;t until Bear&rsquo;s brother suffered a similar fate&mdash;in prison on the day of his own release&mdash;that Bear realized the full consequences of his actions.</p><p><strong>CARLOS:</strong> I broke down because I thought that it was karma for what I had done. I thought that it was punishment for taking some else&rsquo;s life here.</p><p dir="ltr">To find out how Bear is trying to mend his ways and reckon with the past, check out the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 12:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/day-his-bond-chicago-mans-actions-lead-25-more-years-prison-109861 Daughter tries to come to terms with father's suicide http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/daughter-tries-come-terms-fathers-suicide-109826 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/storycorps ann tom.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A few years ago Anne Emerson decided to visit her mom in Boston while on break from law school. One early morning during her stay they got a phone call. It was about her father &hellip; and the news wasn&rsquo;t good. What happened next gave Anne a greater perspective on illness, abandonment, and the will to live. She shared her experience with partner Tom Gallagher at the Chicago StoryCorps booth.</p><p><strong>ANNE:</strong> Everyone has something, that if they had to live without it, it wouldn&rsquo;t be life anymore.</p><p>For her father, she said, it was losing his mental faculties after developing dementia. Anne already had abandonment issues with her dad from an early age.</p><p><strong>ANNE: </strong>The only really big problem I have with his &lsquo;method of exit&rsquo; if you will, is that&hellip; just when you think someone can&rsquo;t find a new way to leave you&hellip; they do.</p><p>To find out how Anne grapples with her loss, listen to the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer. </em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 19:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/daughter-tries-come-terms-fathers-suicide-109826 Yo Sally! Remembering the late University of Chicago math professor Paul Sally http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/yo-sally-remembering-late-university-chicago-math-professor-paul-sally-109738 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7426_chi000416_g1-scr (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A University of Chicago math legend affectionately called &ldquo;Professor Pirate&rdquo; died recently at age 80. Professor Paul Sally was known as much for his teaching as his research.</p><p>Sally learned he had diabetes at age 15. The disease eventually took both legs and most of his eyesight, requiring him to wear a signature black eye patch.</p><p>Shortly before he died on Dec. 30, 2013, Sally visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth with colleague, Kim Ransom, who heads the University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program.</p><p>SALLY: It turned out that one of the easiest subjects for me to deal with in school was mathematics. I never had to study and I loved learning it &hellip; I loved to tell people&nbsp; about mathematics until I was blue in the face, and they were so tired they couldn&#39;t stand it anymore.</p><p><em>To hear more, and to find out what sport helped fuel Sally&rsquo;s love of math, check out the audio above.</em></p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a reporter/producer covering religion, science and culture for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@LynetteKalsnes</a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/yo-sally-remembering-late-university-chicago-math-professor-paul-sally-109738 Expectant mother finds joy, gratitude despite tragedy http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/expectant-mother-finds-joy-gratitude-despite-tragedy-109615 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7422_chi000439_g1-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Abigail Van Beek&rsquo;s deepest desire has always been to be a mom.</p><p>She and her husband were thrilled to learn they were having twins. But then they got the worst news a parent can hear.</p><p>Abigail came to the Chicago StoryCorps booth with her father, Dr. David Bosscher, to talk about how their close-knit family survived a time of great loss.</p><p><strong>ABIGAIL:</strong> We also learned there were some heart ...<br /><strong>DAVID:</strong> Anomalies.<br /><strong>ABIGAIL: </strong>Yeah, that were going to mean our girls probably wouldn&rsquo;t live.</p><p>Abigail said those were hard weeks and months for her, her husband and their families.</p><p><strong>ABIGAIL:</strong> We decided that we were going to continue to carry the girls and to continue to be pregnant with the girls and try to celebrate them in the ways that we could while they were still alive and inside of me.</p><p><em>To learn how Abigail and her family handled the devastating situation with gratitude and even joy at times, listen to the audio above.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 31 Jan 2014 13:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/expectant-mother-finds-joy-gratitude-despite-tragedy-109615 Young Chicago man finds personal growth in face of family tragedy http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/young-chicago-man-finds-personal-growth-face-family-tragedy-109614 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7423_chi000471_g1-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>For many young people, the teenage years are a time of rebellion, and Stephen Marrone was no different. But after he entered the University of Chicago, both of his parents suffered serious health problems.</p><p>Marrone came to the Chicago StoryCorps booth with his friend, Katie Lettie, to reflect on how those experiences gave him a greater appreciation of his parents and friends.</p><p>STEPHEN: About this time first year, my dad had a heart attack, I had to talk him into going to the hospital &hellip; Nobody in my dad&rsquo;s family has lived past 60. Everybody died of a heart attack. So I was like, &ldquo;Dad, we have to go to the hospital.&rdquo; And he&rsquo;s like, &ldquo;No, I don&rsquo;t have the money for that.&rdquo; And I said, &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter how much it costs if you&rsquo;re dead.&rdquo;</p><p>Stephen said they prevailed on his Dad and got him to the hospital, where he was rushed into surgery and survived.</p><p>KATIE: I remember, like a few years ago, you were like really dismissive of your parents, and that&rsquo;s totally changed over the past few years.</p><p>Stephen said he used to have a poor attitude toward his upbringing. As the son of a working-class family, he said he spent most of his high school years aspiring to something different. Then he experienced his dad&rsquo;s heart attack and yet another family health crisis.</p><p><em>To hear how he grew in the face of so much personal tragedy, check out the audio above.</em></p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ reporter/producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@lynettekalsnes</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 31 Jan 2014 11:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/young-chicago-man-finds-personal-growth-face-family-tragedy-109614 Young man finds new hope after HIV diagnosis http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/young-man-finds-new-hope-after-hiv-diagnosis-109312 <p><p>When Justin Kelly came out to his adoptive mother, she sent him away.</p><p>But after he found out he was HIV positive two years ago, he finally found support&mdash;and a new outlook&mdash;through Chicago House, a social services agency for those affected by HIV and AIDS.</p><p>Kelly&mdash;who&rsquo;s also known by his drag moniker, Amber St. James&mdash;shared his story at Chicago House with friend Michelle Dunigan.</p><p>&quot;When I turned 12, I was starting to come to the conclusion that I was gay,&quot; Kelly said. &quot;So what my mother did, she asked me, &#39;So do you like men?&#39; she just asked me. I said, &#39;I don&rsquo;t know.&#39; So she sent me away. She sent me to an all-boys Christian camp to hide me away.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/amber st. james.jpg" style="width: 200px; height: 267px; float: right;" title="Amber St. James does drag at the Jackhammer in Rogers Park." /></p><div><p>Kelly said he didn&rsquo;t learn the lesson his adoptive mother intended. He became even more sure he liked boys, and picked up some handy survival skills to boot. Then his mother sent him to foster care.&nbsp;</p><p>A few years ago, he learned he was HIV positive.</p><p>&quot;I cried the entire way home, bawling out, crying like I found out someone was shot,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p><p><em>To find out how Kelly&rsquo;s mother reacted, and about his hopes for his future, listen to the audio above.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival. Follow her on Twitter @katiemingle.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 Dec 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/young-man-finds-new-hope-after-hiv-diagnosis-109312