Mike Sanow is a Lansing resident who is active duty with the Illinois Army National Guard. I remember going out to the Lansing Municipal Airport last year to take pictures when he returned from a deployment to Afghanistan, followed by a nice welcoming reception for him back at the American Legion Post 330 in Calumet City, an event organized by the Lansing Veterans Ceremonial Honor Guard and the American Legion.
Since then I’ve been in touch with Sanow about a nonprofit organization he has started to aid those who help protect us.
Sanow is the step-brother of Del Pearson, a Chicago police officer who was wounded when he was shot twice in the line of duty two years ago. Sanow said Pearson was his inspiratin for founding the Illiana Network of EMTs, Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, Military Personnel and Veterans Foundation. The shooting occurred just two months before Sanow was scheduled to deploy to the Middle East for the second time in June 2012, this time Kuwait.
“I have several family members that are in law enforcement, another brother that is a firefighter, many veterans in my family, and many of the reservists that are in today's military are also EMTs, police officers, and firefighters for their civilian jobs. So, there's definitely a professional crossover,” said Sanow. “Having seen the cost of war firsthand as well as the devastation caused by an act of violence towards my family due to my brother's profession, I have a strong desire to strengthen the bonds between our chosen professions and help those in need.”
Sanow was deployed to Iraq with 1-106th Aviation Battalion on Dec. 15, 2003. Also participating in the same deployment was a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot, Capt. Tammy Duckworth. Duckworth was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade on Nov. 12, 2004. She lost her right leg near the hip and left leg below the knee, along with several other injuries. Although Sanow wasn’t with her when the shoot down occurred, the event had an impact on him, as well as the rest of their battalion. Duckworth, who continues to serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard, also serves in the U. S. House of Representatives, representing the Illinois 8th District since 2013.
Sanow said the the mission statement for the Illiana Network is “to financially assist those and their families that are injured or killed in the line of duty or while serving from the States of Illinois and Indiana.”
The Educational Scholarship Fund has been established so that scholarships may be awarded, through competition, to deserving recipients. Each of the nine scholarships that are being established will be named after a fallen hero from Illinois or Indiana.
Sanow is holding a fundraiser for the Illiana Network from 7 p.m. to midnight March 28 at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park, Ill.
The night will include entertainment by three bands; Kelly Campos, Deju Vu and I Decline, a buffet, beverages and raffles. Emcee for the event will be NBC news anchor Dick Johnson. Sanow is also working on visits from some other notables, so there may be other surprises in store.
Like Sanow, I have several people in my family in the professions this foundation benefits. I’m proud of them and everyone that serves everyday to make out towns, states, country and world a safer place. And I’m proud of Sanow for taking these steps to make sure that those who are hurt or lost in doing their jobs are not forgotten and that their families get much needed support.
Tickets to the fundraiser can be purchased online at www.theilliananetwork.com. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. Those who show a badge, military ID or proof of veteran status, will get $5 back at the door.
Veteran Dinner date correction
Last week I wrote about the Lansing Junior Woman’s Club’s fifth annual Veteran Appreciation Dinner and listed the incorrect date. The dinner, which is free for veterans and a guest, will take place at 5 p.m. April 17 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 17800 Lorenz Ave. in Lansing. To RSVP call (708) 895-8982 or email firstname.lastname@example.org