The Make A Difference Gala 2017, which benefits St. John Brebeuf (SJB) School, will honor three long-time SJB parishioners. They are Daniel E. Kosiba, Sandie Beierwaltes and Jill Schmidt.
The event is scheduled for Saturday, November 4, at 6 p.m. in the Rev. Thomas P. May Ministry Center, 8305 N. Harlem Ave., Niles. Tickets at $80 per person are available at the St. John Brebeuf School Office or at www.sjbschool.org/gala until November 1.
Dan Kosiba, who will receive the 2017 Sheila Harrington Award, has given his time and devotion as a coach, coordinator and director of the SJB Athletics Program to tens of thousands of SJB students over the last 57 years. Coming to SJB as a student in sixth grade when his family moved to Niles, Dan convinced his father to start the school’s first basketball team in 1962-63 at SJB. While a student at Notre Dame High School for Boys, Dan continued to contribute to the sports program at SJB. The SJB athletic program is widely recognized as one of the most respected programs in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The SJB Jaguars have been Archdiocesan Champions three times in basketball, seven times in baseball, one time in football, two times in girls’ softball, two times in boys’ softball, one time in cross country, one time in track and field and one time in girls’ basketball. “These were proud achievements for our SJB athletes during a time when the Archdiocese of Chicago was the largest Archdiocese in the World,” said Kosiba. With more than 80 percent of students enrolled in intramural as well as interscholastic sports, the most successful part of the program was the participation level, according to Kosiba, who coached most of the teams during the early years.
Also planned for this year are the first annual Parish Apostle Awards. Recipients of the awards are Sandie Beierwaltes, a teacher at SJB School, and Jill Schmidt, a religious education instructor for the parish.
Sandie Beierwaltes has been part of the St. John Brebeuf community her entire life. Baptized in the gym before the church was built, she she knew she wanted to be a teacher by the time she was in second grade. When she was in eighth grade she knew she was going to teach second grade at St. John Brebeuf. While still in college, she sent out only one resume—to SJB—and was hired before she graduated. Except for one year when she taught first grade, Beierwaltes has lived out her dream of teaching second grade for 30 years. She also provides service as a Eucharistic Minister, on the board of the Youth Ministry, a member of the Women’s Club, and in Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Jill Schmidt has taught fourth-grade religious education at Saint John Brebeuf for the past 25 years. According to Schmidt, she has had the privilege of working with religious education directors from Sister Donna to Mac Karaban, learning from all of them throughout the years. She appreciates the deep bond with her fellow volunteers—especially her husband, Tom Peske, who fills in for the fourth-grade class when she is traveling for her work with the public relations firm she owns.
“All the award recipients routinely go above and beyond what is expected of them,” said SJB School Principal Dr. Mary Maloney. “Dan collaborates with our parent Athletic Board to facilitate a world-class program that develops the whole athlete. Sandie is the teacher you want your child to have. Her students develop a strong foundation of academic skills and faith formation. And Jill’s service is a priceless gift to our entire parish community.”
“As we look forward to celebrating this 24th Annual GALA Benefit, I am most grateful once again to this year’s Gala committee leadership Joe and Kathy Walsh and Ronda Goetz,” said Father Michael Meany. “This elegant evening which includes dining and dancing, a silent auction and $10,000 grand raffle brings the whole parish together to celebrate our many blessings and recognize the good people who work so generously to build up the Gospel values of love of thy neighbor.”