Rory's story motivates Highland Park students
From Pioneer Press – May 16, 2012
BY CHARLES BERMAN
Although current Indian Trail Elementary School students never met Rory David Deutsch, they spent their school day May 4 with Rory’s family to learn about him and celebrate his life.
Deutsch passed away 14 years ago when he was 7 years old after battling brain cancer.
Rory’s story, however, remains ingrained in the Indian Trail student body and motivated students to run 664 miles in the one day en route to raising $8,350 to benefit The Rory David Deutsch Foundation. The students smashed their goal of 200 miles.
“It was amazing,” said Ross Deutsch, who spent May 4 at Indian Trail with his wife Mindy. “For us to meet kids who never met Rory but now know of him because of this effort is a really special thing. It’s a heck of a legacy and it’s even more meaningful because he was a student at Indian Trail.”
The $8,350 headed to the foundation in Rory’s name will help fund research on brain stem glioma, the type of pediatric brain tumor that Rory had.
Indian Trail also has kept Rory’s legacy going with an award each year given to a student who also is a good citizen.
“For us, the fact that Rory’s name is still being spoken and he is still being talked about in that vain has so much more meaning than any dollars could measure,” Ross Deutsch added.
Deutsch said Rory’s foundation could not have been so successful 14 years later without Indian Trail’s commitment.
“It’s a great lesson to teach the kids what they can achieve,” he said. “The school’s vision and passion and enthusiasm has spilled over to the kids. Words can’t express how it felt standing in that gym seeing how excited and proud the kids were.”
The Deutsch family still lives in Highland Park. Rory’s sister is currently a fifth-grader at Indian Trail.
She took part in the “Ragnar for Rory” long-distance running program that also worked to teach students the importance of exercise, teamwork and setting goals. High school track coaches and parents volunteered in gym classes during the first week of May to teach the students good running techniques.
The effort culminated with the May 4 all-school run and assembly.
Six Indian Trail teachers — Ryan Phillips, Stefanie Labellarte, Danielle Gutelli, Josh Funke and Christine Buti — will continue honoring Rory by running The Chicago Ragnar next month. The 200-mile, two-day relay race from Madison, Wis., to Chicago will be held June 8 and 9.
“(Rory’s) courage and optimism were an inspiration to all who knew him,” the group stated.
“Our Ragnar team is proud of Indian Trail’s efforts and are honored to run for Rory, his family, and our community.”