Raul, Paul and Lori are the Military Our Town, Our Heroes Finalists!
By: Stephanie Lewis
November 2, 2012 9:01 am CT
Announcing the three finalists in the last round of Our Town, Our Heroes of 2012! Another year of recognizing and rewarding local heroes is drawing to a close and we couldn’t have asked for three better finalists to feature in our final military-focused round. Raul, Paul and Lori all work in their communities to support our troops abroad and families on the home front. You are all American heroes!
Read on for the inspiring stories of our newest finalists. The winning hero will receive a one-week loan of a Chevrolet vehicle as well as a $500 gift card to continue making a difference in his or her community. Voting ends Friday, November 16, so don’t forget to check in daily to vote for your favorite hero!
Raul Buendia from Aurora, nominated by Robert Lopez
Raul is a military veteran and recent graduate of Aurora University. With his dedication to protect those he loves as well as his drive and passion to help others, Raul has become one of my greatest heroes. I met him three years ago when he came back from Afghanistan and enrolled back in school. Raul and I pledged our Latino fraternity, Phi Iota Alpha Frat. Inc., and along with nine others, we since established staple cultural events on campus such as the Trick or Treat for UNICEF that raised more than $500 in two weeks. Raul has been the driving force behind all of our successes with words of kindness, motivation, understanding, determination and brotherly love. Words cannot put into perspective the vibrant and humble personality Raul has; you have to be around him to experience it. I truly believe there is no other hero like Raul.
Paul Kallembach from DeKalb, nominated by Terry Vance
Paul has selflessly dedicated his life to assisting veterans across Illinois. His efforts go as far as transporting veterans to both the Hines Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Chicago Service Office. Because of Paul’s services, veterans are able to attend medical appointments, handle emergencies, enroll in the VA system and file for VA disability benefit claims. Paul’s efforts stretch beyond just ordinary service. Recently, Paul was able to save a World War II veteran’s life after he was pinned by his wheelchair. Paul knows the importance of honoring every veteran, living or deceased, which is why he organized the DeKalb, Ill. Memorial Day program. Paul’s efforts are beyond inspirational; they are truly heroic.
Lori Stewart from Urbana, nominated by Laura Bleill
Lori exhibits persistence, strength and determination. These qualities are what make her such an inspiration to me and the community. When Lori’s son was first deployed in 2007, Lori started “Toys for Troops.” What began as a small idea has now evolved into an annual effort. Every holiday season, Lori sends care packages to troops packed with letters, baked goods, gifts and more. She has started a community movement by hosting events collecting items and packing boxes. Lori acts as the glue between the community and soldiers abroad, telling their stories and always looking out from them. Lori has kept the basic needs of our soldiers on our minds at all times. She is a true hero for forging a connection between our military with the home front in Champaign-Urbana.
Voting for this round of Our Town, Our Heroes ends Friday, November 16, and we will announce the winner on DrivingtheMidwest.com on Monday, November 19. Cast your vote once per day until voting ends, and be sure to follow us on Twitter and check out our Facebook page to help spread the word with your friends and family!
Good luck to the finalists! You’re all our heroes!