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Bolingbrook Celebrates Kindness Day in honor of Lurie Children’s Patient Sammy

Every year in May, the Bolingbrook area comes together for a special celebration of community, resilience, and kindness. The inspiration behind this day? A little girl named Sammy who made a big impact on her school and city through her perseverance, optimism, and gratitude. Pioneer Elementary School Kindness Day was first introduced by Bolingbrook’s Mayor Roger Claar on May 18, 2018 in recognition for the overwhelming kindness Samantha Yelenosky, a resident of Bolingbrook and then student at Pioneer Elementary School, received from classmates, teachers, staff and her community when she returned to school after facing tremendous health challenges. Her parents wanted to share their gratitude for the kindness she received and express how simple acts of kindness were critical to their daughter’s recovery.

Sammy showed flu-like symptoms in the fall of 2016. Concerned, her parents brought her to their local hospital, and she was transported to Lurie Children’s. There her parents were told she was extremely critical and had little hope of survival. Doctors at Lurie Children’s Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) determined a rare virus attacked Sammy’s heart, causing her body to go into septic shock. She underwent emergency open-heart surgery and spent the next several weeks recovering at the CCU with the support of her family and team of caregivers. She survived, but as a result Sammy has complex medical needs that will require continuous care at Lurie Children’s. “Today we’re counting our blessings that she’s smiling, dancing and laughing,” her mother Marissa says.

Watch a recap of Sammy’s Kindness Day in 2019!

This year Bolingbrook continues to honor and celebrate Pioneer Elementary School Kindness Day with a mostly virtual community celebration on Saturday, May 16, 2020. The day will include a Zoom chat to kick off the day, with speakers from different leaders and kindness ambassadors in the Bolingbrook community! The weekend continues with opportunities for families and community members to connect through virtual crafting, interactive performances, and more.

“We had an unexpected emergency stay at Lurie Children’s during this quarantine and it meant a lot us to that our doctors, nurses, family, friends, school community and our youth cared so much for our daughter,” said Marissa. “We are not the only family that is the recipient of kindness. This year on our Pioneer Elementary School Kindness Day social media pages we are featuring three amazing families that will share the impact that kindness has had on their lives and will hopefully inspire our youth and community to continue to be kind to each other.”

Many local and non-local businesses have come together to support Kindness Day 2020. Learn more about the weekend and how to get involved by checking the Facebook page or the library website. This Saturday, share your own notes and thoughts of kindness in solidarity with Sammy and her family!