Chicagoan Dr. Carla Knorowski was an avid Paris traveler and fell in love with the city as a young woman. She has traveled to nearly every city named Paris to connect her love for the city around the world, amounting to nearly 89,000 miles of flying over the years. In her efforts, she has been hailed as a nonprofit leader and scholar and advocate for culture, education and the arts. However, five years ago marked an absolute shock to her and everyone across the globe.

In April 2019 when the Notre Dame Cathedral had endured fifteen hours under flames, Knorowski was in completely devastated. Being a prolific fundraiser, she put together an event to raise awareness and restoration funds for the iconic cathedral to expedite the construction and ensure that it would keep its classic French Gothic architecture in place. With the success of the event she raised a total of $500,000.

The event she created was a global virtual fundraising event whose participants included cellist Yo-Yo Ma, actress Glenn Close, and Notre-Dame Cathedral’s titular organist Olivier Latry as well as others. Her efforts toward its reconstruction promoted her to the rank of Officer in its National Order of Merit (L’Ordre National Du Mérite) by the Republic of France, which was officially signed by President Emmanuel Macron. It is the second national Order of France, the first being the Legion of Honor. The Order recognizes distinguished civil or military service. Annually it is awarded to approximately 3,000 French citizens and 300 citizens of foreign nations.

The construction and restoration of Notre Dame was in the process of being renovated as it was nearing 850 years old. Luckily, many sculptures had been placed in an alternate location before the fire had begun and a lot of the stained glass was saved with the firefighters help. Thanks to Knorowski and her love for Paris and French culture, Notre Dame is closer to its 2024 reopening date in time for the next Olympics.

surgery“Progress is made by trial and failure; the failures are generally a hundred times more numerous than the successes, yet they are usually left unchronicled,” said scientist William Ramsay. However, when it comes to the science and art of surgery, the trial and error is an important part of its history. It is amazing how doctors and surgeons can easily save lives today, especially for procedures that would have been life threatening a century ago. However, someone had to first learn about the human body and how to fix what they could not see. The International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago is the only museum in all of North America to show the history of how modern surgery came to be, with both failures and accomplishments.

The Mission of the Museum is to enrich people’s lives by enhancing their appreciation and understanding of the history, development, and advances in surgery and related subjects in health and medicine. Dr. Max Thorek founded the International College of Surgeons in 1935, and in 1950 his efforts led to the museum’s collection growing. The Museum opened to the public on September 9, 1954. Today the museum’s four floors hold many marvels from the art of healing.

Some people think of surgeons as miracle workers. Illinois has the only museum in all of North America that chronicles how those miracles came to be. To plan your visit to the museum visit here.  

rockThe white oak, the cardinal bird and popcorn all have something in common: they are Illinois symbols! The state tree, state bird and state snack will have a new member joining their ranks. Dolostone was declared the state’s rock by legislation signed into law by Governor Pritzker in June 2022. This law came courtesy of suburban Chicago elementary and middle school students who pushed for its passage, as well as the sponsor of the legislation, State Senator Laura Ellman of the 21st Senate District.

Dolostone had a hard won victory, beating out sandstone and limestone for the title. Dolostone is the hard bedrock that lies underneath most of Illinois’ glacially deposited soil. It’s often referred to as dolomite, and was formed in an ancient tropical ocean, during the Silurian period, some 400 million years ago. The rock did not journey to Illinois, but rather Illinois journeyed to it. If we turn back time to when the rock first formed, what is now Illinois used to be a massive underwater Silurian reef system stretching up to what’s now Door County, Wisconsin. As the Earth changed and continents moved, the sea eventually made way for land and Illinois came to be.    

Illinois’ history has started with this rock in so many ways. It was there when the land of the state was first formed. Not only that, but Dolostone was originally used as building material for Illinois’ Old State Capital, the literal bedrock of our democracy.

From now on, when kids in Illinois play rock paper scissors, know that their rock is Dolostone.     

CaptureGranny got the degree! Last Sunday a new graduate walked across the stage to receive their diploma that they had waited since 1951 to achieve. This time, however, the graduate happened to be the oldest undergrad recipient in Northern Illinois University’s history – 90 years old. After waiting almost seven decades, Joyce DeFauw of Geneseo received her bachelors of general studies. DeFauw had originally pursued a teaching degree and then home economics. However, after being a few semesters away from graduation, she met her husband and had nine children throughout the years. 

After nine children, including two sets of twins, she had her hands full and decided it would be best to put a hold on her degree. It wasn’t until 2019 that she decided to go back to school to finish the degree she had pursued back in 1951. Due to the pandemic, DeFauw took courses online in order to accelerate the process, using a gifted computer – the first computer she ever owned. The pandemic gave a lot of time for people to consider their education goals, and for DeFauw, she felt it was her time to give it another go.

It was definitely a change for her, but she told a local news station, WREX, that it wasn’t something that she had always planned to finish. DeFauw is one of the few people in their nineties in history to decide to go back and pursue education.

DeFauw always valued education and wanted to remind others that it’s important to never give up on your dream, even if you get sidetracked. She is a reminder that anything is possible if you put your mind to it! The grandmother of 17 and great grandmother of 24 said it was ultimately her family that encouraged her to return to NIU, known then at her time as Northern Illinois State Teachers College. As she put it, “Don’t give up. Even if you do quit, go back. Just hang in there. Keep learning. Keep giving thanks. It’s there for you. Just go for it.”

lightsChestnuts roasting over an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose and Christmas lights! Nothing quite embodies the holiday season like driving home when the sun has set and seeing houses bursting with Christmas lights and decorations. This season, neighborhoods are not the only places lit up with the holiday spirit. Multiple locations and festivals create wonderful light shows all over Illinois during December and January. Embrace the holiday season and make memories with loved ones by visiting these colorful and bright light shows. Here are some of the best Christmas light displays to visit in the state: 

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