COAL CITY — Even the skies were mourning the loss of 12 children Saturday morning at the Angels of Hope brick dedication ceremony in Coal City.
The three performing ballet dancers chose to perform in the pouring rain, even though they were given a choice. Their long, flowing white dresses made them appear as angels who descended for a brief moment to honor the children who passed too soon from this world.
As the angels’ dance came to a close, so did the rain, as if to say the time for mourning was over. The grieving was past, and it was time for more joyful memories and for making new ones.
Jamie Sikora, one of the founders of the Angel of Hope Memorial at Campbell Park, told those gathered that she hoped the memorial, along with the new engraved bricks being dedicated that day, would serve as a “beacon of hope to recognize, honor and celebrate the lives of our children.”
Sikora, herself, lost twins six years ago. She came to the dedication with a newborn, Ethan, and daughter, Lola, 3.
“They had to come first,” she said of the twins, “so that I could have Lola and Ethan.”
Sikora said she could feel the presence of her twins that day.
Nicole Ulivi lost a son three summers ago. She said having the bricks engraved under the statue made it a nice place to go to remember him.
“You can come and have your little moment,” she said.
Mary Jo Shain came to honor three family members who passed away — a brother, a niece and the niece’s friend.
“It’s a nice way to remember them,” she said.
Joseph and Jean Sikora, Peru, were having a bittersweet weekend. They had just celebrated their youngest son’s wedding the night before, then mourned the loss of two other sons at the ceremony the very next day.
Young Joseph S. Secora was born a full-term stillborn, Jean said through tears. His brother, James, was killed at the age of 22 by a drunk driver.
The Secora’s children bought them bricks for their lost sons and brothers as gifts last Mother’s Day.
“I was overwhelmed at the time, and this was such a lovely ceremony. It’s the circle of life,” Jean said about the weekend of wedding celebration and the brick dedication. “The happiness and the sorrow go hand in hand.”
The twelve bricks unveiled Saturday were of children, of whatever age, who had passed away.
Memorialized were Brian R. Harris, Debora Jean Hiebasko, Trebor R. Harmon, Joseph M. Sikora, James F. Sikora, Crystal Lyn Carr, Jim Michalowski, Melissa Ann Michalowski, Josh Allen, Amanda N. Jahn, Ryan T. Jahn, and Kaitlyn O. Jahn.
Amanda Jahn, 27, and her two children, Ryan, 4, and Kaitlyn, 11 1/2 months, all of Dwight, were killed Nov. 6, 2008, when Ann Marie Getz, 43, of Ransom, drove her vehicle through the stop intersection on Gardner Road, at Illinois 47, and smashed into the driver’s side of Jahn’s car.
Memorial bricks are purchased from Angels of Hope anytime of the year and are dedicated during the weekend of Oktoberfest and Mother’s Day.
“Sometimes when you have a child that dies,” Jamie Secora said, “you have a fear that everyone forgets that they were here. You don’t want your child to be forgotten. This is a place they will always be remembered.”
The On Broadway Dancers, Jaime Martis, Devon Wyss, and Emma Frantini, all of Coal City, said they didn’t mind the rain. This is the second brick dedication in which they have performed, and they wouldn’t have missed it.
They danced to raise money for the statue a few years ago, too, setting out a plate at functions and events all over the area.
“It’s for such a good cause,” Martis said. “It affects so many people, and we feel it’s very important to support that.”