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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Local women enjoy parting
gifts from Oprah show

By Barry Schrader.................................December 21, 2010

Four lucky women from DeKalb and Sycamore hit the jackpot when they managed to get tickets for an Oprah TV show being taped before Thanksgiving, not knowing they would be a part of Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things 2010 near the end of her final season.
As Sarah Vander Bleek of DeKalb tells it, she has been a longtime fan of Oprah, watching the show for the past 10 years. Since it is Oprah’s last season, Vander Bleek decided to try to get tickets online.
The website asked for an essay on why she is Oprah’s ultimate fan, so she quickly wrote and submitted it. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Patti Pearson was doing the same thing. The two never had met before.
Both women were notified they would be given tickets for the Nov. 16 taping for a show to be aired Nov. 22. They were each permitted to bring a guest. Sarah chose her childhood friend from

Sarah Vander Bleek (left) and her lifelong friend, Sarah Lindell, are shown in the Loop in Chicago on Nov. 16 before a taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." (Provided photo)

her Malta grade school days, Sarah Lindell of Sycamore. The two rode the train from Elburn into the Loop together to reach Harpo Studios the day of the taping.
Meanwhile, Patti took her daughter, also named Sarah, along for the show. Sarah is working on her master’s degree at Northern Illinois University and recently moved to Schaumburg. Patti, also a devoted Oprah fan, had attended a show back in 1993, but this was just her second time there.
The excitement mounted when they saw audience members from an earlier taping the same day leaving with large shopping bags full of goodies, but no one would tell them anything about what had happened. Then they filed into the studio and had to wait a couple of hours for the next taping. The room was abuzz with rumors of whether this might be the big gift giving show. Everyone had gone through a security screening so no cameras or cell phones were allowed inside.
They were rewarded with the answer when Oprah came out dressed in her holiday finery, and the stage was decorated for Christmas.
One cannot imagine the screams of nearly 300 women and a few men when they found out this was the BIG show everyone always talks about. I wonder if they knew Sarah Vander Bleek was a cardiac nurse at Delnor Hospital and would be handy in case anyone suffered a cardiac “event” on the spot?!
Guest stars Johnny Mathis and Josh Groban were on stage to sing some Christmas songs, then Oprah began rolling out the gifts that every audience member received. Topping it all off was a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle that is totally redesigned and not even in showrooms until May. Sarah Vander Bleek chose a red VW while her friend Sarah chose silver. Patti also picked the color red while her daughter plans to trade her car for a more roomy model.
The gifts just kept flowing and included such luxuries as an iPad, diamond earrings, fancy purses, cashmere sweaters and boots, a set of pots and pans, and even a $1,000 gift certificate from Nordstrom. Many items were given as vouchers so people could go online and select their color and size preferences at home. All totaled, the gifts were nearly $30,000 in value.
Sarah Vander Bleek quipped that “I just don’t need a thing now for Christmas,” no doubt much to the relief of her husband, Paul, who manages the local Applebee’s.
The pairs of women had never met until boarding the Metra train back to Elburn when they spotted each other’s bulging gift bags from the show. I can imagine that gave them lots to talk about all the way home. Another coincidence: Patti also found out that she knows Sarah Vander Bleek’s husband, Paul, through Stage Coach Players involvement, and so again I can repeat – what a small world.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115