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Carnagios receive community philanthropy award

Local business owners honored for helping ‘neighbors’

John and Joanne Carnagio  were the recipients of the the 2013 ExxonMobil Community Philanthropic Award at Howl for Parks on Saturday, Jan. 26, a People for Channahon Parks Foundation event.

The ExxonMobil Community Philanthropic Award recognizes individuals and businesses who donate their time, talents and treasures to improve the quality of life for their neighbors.

John and Joanne Carnagio met during their freshman year of high school and quickly became high school sweethearts.  They married in 1993. John began his career as a salesman selling specialty metals for a steel mill, while Joanne began her career teaching children with behavior disorders and learning disabilities. 

In 1996, they moved to Channahon and opened their first of what would become six McDonald’s franchises. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, John spoke about “Not just doing business in this community, but truly becoming a neighbor,” and they have tried to stay true to that statement ever since.

For many years, John could be seen in the dugouts and sidelines of the Channahon Baseball League and Chanooka Braves youth football organization. John served on the Board of Directors of the Chanooka Braves as the athletic director for 12 years and Joanne served as a cheer coach and the director of cheer/pom for three years. 

Their community involvement enabled them to be honored by McDonald’s Corporation with the prestigious “Ronald” award.  This award recognizes owner/operators who demonstrate exemplary commitment to their local community.  The Channahon Park District honored them with the “Community Service Award” from the state park associations for their contributions and support.

The village of Channahon has recognized them with the “Fred Rittof/George Sparagis Business of the Year” award, and they were one of the first recipients of the “Champion of the Children” award given by the Minooka Community High School Boosters.

When John was approached by the Channahon Fire Protection District to assist them in obtaining financing for a new Fire Safety House to help educate school children, he was instrumental in obtaining a grant from the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charity to purchase the house. 

Joanne also spends much of her time in the business coordinating local fundraising events, such as PTO nights and McTeacher Nights to support local schools.

Their oldest son, Joey, who is now a senior at Minooka Community High School and who plans to attend the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, played quarterback for the Minooka Indians’ varsity football team and plays third base for the varsity baseball team. Their daughter, Kelly, is a sophomore at MCHS and plays varsity basketball. Their youngest son, Johnny is active as well, participating in basketball, football and baseball. All three of their children are honor students and active in other school activities besides sports.

Their business is a sponsor of the “Future Business Leaders of America” club at MCHS and he has presented to the members and is involved in a marketing program that helps these future leaders obtain real world business experience. John has also participated in career days and has given many business presentations at area schools. Their business also participates in employment programs with Cornerstone Services and was part of a pilot program at Joliet Junior College that helped to place students in the food service industry.

In 2010, John was also involved in the development of the Minooka Community High School Strategic Plan. Also in 2010, Joanne became an integral part of the People For Channahon Parks Foundation as a board member and coordinator of fundraising events, such as “Passport to Paradise,” “Bogey Nights” and “Howl at the Parks.”  They have always been a big supporter of the Three Rivers Festival, including sponsorship the last three years of a luncheon for special needs individuals who are invited to enjoy the festival prior to opening day.

Over the past several years, along with their local commitment, John and Joanne have been proud to support the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charity. As a member of the Board of Directors for the Chicago arm of the national charity, John assisted in a capitol campaign that raised $30 million and enabled the charity to construct the world’s largest Ronald House located in Chicago. This house features 86 guest rooms, providing care and comfort for families of hospitalized children. John, Joanne and their three children have volunteered at the house on a regular basis, spending time with the children and families during some of their darkest days.

John and Joanne both feel extremely fortunate to live in Channahon and believe that it is the outstanding folks that reside in this community that enable all to enjoy a great “hometown” feel. It is a priority for John and Joanne to continue to not only be actively involved in this wonderful community, but to continue to encourage their children to do the same.

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