Thornton Township celebrated its 13th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month with native music, food and speakers talking about the importance of fostering and educating people about the Latino culture. Entertainers included the Thornton Township Mexican Folklore Dancers, Magician Ken Mate, and the Holy Cross Immaculate Heart of Mary Marimba Ensemble.
“One of the main purposes of Thornton Township’s Human Relations Commission is to bring diverse programs and activities to our residents,” said Ernst Lamothe Jr., communications director for Thornton Township. “Each year we try to expand on our programs and we believe the community will really enjoy our Hispanic Heritage Celebration featuring guest speakers, great food and music and just fellowship with the community.”
The event took place at the township, 333 E. 162nd St. in South Holland. The honoree was Dr. Richard Rucoba. A World War II veteran in the Marine Corp., he treated the wounded and cared for sick Marines. After the war, Dr. Rucoba studied and graduated from Illinois College of Optometry. But understanding that life is more than just your career, he always believed in volunteering his time. He tutored high school students in math, English and other classes and joined the Lions Club which focuses on helping the visually and hearing impaired. He has been a Lions member for 55 years, where he went on various Eye Glass Missions to Mexico to examine the poor and prescribe glasses without charge. During one of his 15 Eye Glass mission trips, he drove an hour north of Mexico City and examined 6,280 people in one week.
“We had the pleasure this year of having an incredible man, Richard Rucoba speak to our community about the ability to achieve anything you want no matter what age you are,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township supervisor. “He is an incredible man.”
In addition, because Rucoba believes in staying in shape, he turned his passion of running into the art of dominating the Senior Olympics. He has a wall full of medals and that includes the national games this year where he competed in four events bringing home three gold medals and one silver. He is an incredible man with an incredible story.
“I was amazed at the number of people who wanted to bring about peace and innovation and start to know each other,” said Joyce Washington, Thornton Township trustee.