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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.


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Helping yields big reward from Oprah

By Barry Schrader.................................December 28, 2010

Last week I wrote about four local women – Sarah Vander Bleek, a cardiac nurse, her childhood friend Sarah Lindell of Sycamore, Patti Pearson, who works at Jefferson Elementary School in DeKalb, and her daughter Sarah – who all got tickets to a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show and were surprised to be part of Oprah’s annual ultimate gifts extravaganza.
Just after that column was published, I received an e-mail from Jenny Butkus of Sycamore, revealing two more women who were just as lucky. It seems that the other show taped the same day featured “Everyday Heroes,” and Keri Nelson of Sycamore had been nominated by her friend, Lynn Boughton from Waterman, for that show.
Lynn wrote about Keri’s volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, when she was group leader for a team going to

Oprah Show attendees Keri Nelson of Sycamore (right) and Lynn Boughton of Waterman. (Provided photo)

Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina – and she went eight times. Lynn herself joined Keri’s group and has made four trips to help rebuild Habitat houses that were hit by the storm.
So both Keri and Lynn earned tickets to the show and went to Chicago on Nov. 16 for the taping and found themselves on Oprah’s “big gift giving” traditional show. That program aired Nov. 19 and has been repeated this month as well.
Keri, who works for the American Cancer Society, as of January will become the statewide volunteer training coordinator for the Relay for Life effort of the ACS Illinois Division. Lynn sells agricultural insurance for Archers, Daniels and Midland. They drove to the Harpo Studios in Chicago early in the morning for the first show’s taping and found themselves among mostly “everyday heroes” who had been handpicked for this particular program. The speculation was running high that this was the “ultimate gifts” show and it turned out to be true. And as a bonus they got to see the Black Eyed Peas perform.
Their gifts were mostly different from the other show taped that day and included such items as a 52-inch 3-D television with Blu-ray player, a five-year subscription to Netflix movie rentals, a diamond watch and earrings, a Nikon camera, four pairs of Nikes, cashmere sweaters and blanket, and even a customized closet to be built to fit their homes. The list goes on and on, and again added up to nearly $30,000 for each audience member. They were also thrilled to hear that the studio will pay the gift taxes on all their winnings. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the top prize – a seven-day Caribbean cruise.
“I have long been an admirer of Oprah, who is one of the most generous and giving people in the world,” Keri said. “She has been able to accomplish so much in her life. It is very humbling to be honored by her.”
On another subject, I am likewise humbled by the response to my book “Hybrid Corn & Purebred People.” You have honored me by purchasing so many copies; there are less than 50 remaining for sale at the stores as of the day before Christmas. Thanks to all and have a Happy New Year.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115