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Our Favorite Stories

Miss Amazing

Started in Nebraska in 2007, and just recently coming to Illinois, Miss Amazing is pageant made for girls and women with disabilities.

“Its very different from a typical pageant. We help the girls build confidence in a supportive environment through the skills of pageantry. But we don’t judge the girls against each other we judge them individually. The judges are looking for confidence that they develop throughout the day so their scores are developed based on how confident they have become throughout the day and not against another girl,” said Illinois State Director Jessi Peters

Each contestant is named a Princess, but the one named Queen moves on to the national competition in Los Angeles.

In 2015 that was Naperville resident Nicole Minassian. The 20-year-old North Central student welcomed the opportunity to share more about her abilities at the national level.

“People just have a tendency to want to ignore what they don’t understand so we just get pushed aside. So I think that going out there and doing things through miss amazing, wearing the crown just gets in peoples faces more and shows we can do things and it’s good, and not just try to include people that don’t fit because we can fit into society,” she said.

For those involved, the confidence gained through miss amazing lasts beyond their time on stage.

“The experience to really show off your true colors and to show your true self on stage. It puts a lot of light in your heart that you’re a somebody you’re not a nobody like you are a somebody and that makes every girl happy inside to stand up with their disability and really stand out,” said Lea Schultz.

Naperville News 17’s Natalie Vitale Reports.



Ready, set, spike.

Described by its founders as the child of volleyball and foursquare, Spikeball is hoping to be the next great American sport.

“Very similar to beach volleyball in that it’s played two-on-two, you have up to three hits per team to hit it back on the net, in which the other team is responsible for returning it, kicker is, it’s actually played 360 degrees around the net,” said Spikeball’s Chief Operating Officer, Scott Palmer.

For a brief time in the 80’s, it was sold as a toy. About 30 years later, Spikeball’s current CEO Chris Ruder acquired the rights and began selling sets online, part-time.

Fast forward eight years and Spikeball now has eight full-time employees, including their Chief Operating Officer, Scott Palmer.

A North Central grad and Naperville resident, Palmer left corporate America to join the Spikeball crew, nearly three years ago.

“It’s been an awesome journey. I appreciate everything my family’s been able to put up with, especially my awesome wife. It’s been a lot of late nights but we’re trying to build something awesome,” said Palmer.

Since then, Spikeball has steadily grown in popularity and recognition with 250,000 players nationwide; 5,000 of which are competitive and 1,000 who are nationally ranked.

But you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy the sport.

“My favorite thing about Spikeball, I’m not really good at many sports, but I feel like I’m okay at Spikeball. And I feel like it’s one of those things that you get better at pretty quickly,” said Peter Heald, an amateur Spikeball player.

Whether playing casually or competitively, remember to keep your eyes on the ball.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers Reports.


Naper Aero Club

On the south side of Naperville, at the intersection of Aero Drive and 83rd street, lies a community with a whole different view on life.

In 1953, three Napervillians began the Naper Aero Club as a way to share their passion of flying with others.

“Many of us were like myself, given the opportunity to go on and find a career in aviation and were out here instructing and teaching young men to fly and giving them the opportunity to further their careers in aviation,” said Mel Finzer, member of the Naper Aero Club.

Soon, through the private airport and two flying clubs, the idea took flight with others and gained popularity along the way.

“No other country has the general aviation freedom that we have here in the U.S. and Naper Aero is just an extension of that same thought process where people love flying they love airplanes they love aviation, the freedom presents and they brought it closer into their lives building homes on a facility that has taxiways, hangers and runways, and that’s what we are, we love flying, all of us,” said Mike Pastore, Vice President of the Naper Aero Club.

To experience it first hand, I strapped in and took off in Pastore’s personal airplane to see what it’s all about. It’s a view those along Aero Drive can see often. With residents’ houses right off the runway, most with an attached hangar, their motto is- why drive when you can fly!

“I took off this morning with a cup of coffee and flew in and watched the sunrise from my airplane, it was great,” said Pastore.

Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.


Healing Fields

Naperville came together this November to recognize their veterans at the Healing Field of Honor on Rotary Hill.

“When we first met, and we do this every three years, and this is the second time I’ve been involved with it, we were looking for a theme. The department of defense has this program out called the 50th year commemoration of the Vietnam War, the start of the war. So I kind of laid that out in the group and right away somebody said, ‘well why don’t we call our theme 50 years of healing?’” said Healing Field committee member Wayne Fischer.

Along with the 2,015 flags installed on the hillside, a scale model of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall was created thanks to Ray Kinney of Blooming Colors, the Naperville Park District, the VFW and the American Legion. The wall includes over 58,000 names of the lives that were lost during the war.

“It’s hard to explain what it felt like when you served your country and nobody seemed to give a damn. And that’s part of the reason why we built this wall, to let these families know that we respect the dead and we’ll do what we can for them,” said Vietnam veteran Jack Schiffler.

In addition to the wall, the Healing Field committee honored the 11 Naperville men that died in Vietnam with a special plaque.

“We owe you, our veterans, a debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay, for your pain and suffering that you endured for America. We owe you everything,” said Healing Field Chairman, Marty Walker.

The next Healing Field will return to Naperville in 2018.

Naperville News 17’s Rachel Pierson reports.


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