Patty Klank felt the town of Minooka was, at times, lacking some spirit.
Growing up in Wilmington, Klank was accustomed to a community with an unmistakable passion for its high school.
So, Klank decided to dedicate her spare time towards bringing the spirit back to Minooka.
Q: Tell us about yourself, such as where you were born, your education, your work, your family.
A: I’ve been married to Don for 29 years. My children: Eric, 20, attends Augustana College; Jeff, 16, is a sophomore at MCHS; Olivia, 12, is at Channahon Junior High. I work with my husband at an insurance business that we have owned in Minooka for the past 18 years.
Q: Tell us what drives you to volunteer in the community?
A: I saw that type of thing growing up in Wilmington. We lived directly behind the football stadium and my parents still live in the house that I grew up in. I love driving through Wilmington, Coal City and Morris during football season. The towns are totally decorated in their high school colors, and I felt like Minooka was always missing that. I wanted to bring that spirit to Minooka.
Q: You have been a longtime supporter of high school activities, even before your children were in high school. Tell us about your efforts to generate school and community spirit at the high school, such as creating signage, decorating poles, the decorations during football and other sports seasons.
A: After Minooka High School stopped having the homecoming parade, I felt that that the school wasn’t getting that support that it should. I know that the community was going through the unbelievable growth that we had, and it was difficult only having one school. The trailers as classrooms in front of Central Campus and the split schedule were a little crazy. I am to this day amazed at what our teachers and administration lived through and continued still to raise our academic scores.
When South Campus opened, I thought we could get back on track. Three years ago, we decorated the football stadium a little for the homecoming game. At two in the afternoon that day, I was telling some of the other moms about how we used to have convertibles drive the Homecoming court around the track in between games. Luckily, my friend Margaret Loughran has an uncle that owns Rub Ford in Gardner.
With MCHS Athletic Director Bob Tyrell’s and former Principal Bob Williams’ blessings, we had convertibles for the kids.
The students were so excited that it just snowballed after that. Most of the signs are painted at our house. It took us a month to paint the big MINOOKA INDIANS sign; I can’t even tell you how many hands went into that project.
Q: You have gotten others involved in your spirit activities. How do you connect with other like-minded parents?
A: It is honestly contagious! We will be out putting out bows and ribbons and parents will stop and ask to help. We never turn away help.
We stepped it up last year by going to the high school Athletic Boosters to help pay for the plastic cups that go in the fence. Almost everything else we pay for ourselves.
The high school calls us the Spirit Moms. We honestly have so much fun doing it and, as much as our kids might complain, they often ask me what are we doing next.
Q: What would you tell others who want to get involved?
A: Don’t wait to be asked what you can do for your kids. They are only in high school for four years and then they are gone.
Get involved! Brainstorm with other parents in your child’s club or sport and do things on your own. We were putting cups in the tennis courts and the girls’ tennis members asked if we did it for them. We said, “Of course!” Boy, did they take ownership of those cups. We never had a missing cup.
Everyone told me that the signs would be vandalized out by the road. They were never touched. Sometimes you need to believe.
Q: You have been involved in efforts to revive the fall homecoming parade, which hasn’t been held for many years. Why do you think this is important? What efforts are you making to have this event take place again.
A: I think the Homecoming parade is important to bring the three communities together that feed into the high school. I am hoping that the Channahon Junior High, Minooka Junior High and the high school band will all be in the parade. Unfortunately, the Troy Shorewood band has another commitment that day. We invite any school groups or clubs to participate. They don’t have to build a float — they can ride in the back of a truck or even walk.
It has taken some time to get approval, but Mayor Pat Brennan and the village of Minooka have been so supportive. It has finally been approved by the school board, and we are a go on it. The parade is scheduled for Sept. 27, 2013.
Q: Talk about the work, life and family balance. How does a person be active and have time for self, as well as the important things?
A: I don’t! I have a great family that keeps me grounded when I am a total scatterbrain. I have the best friends in the world that support me in all of my craziness. Without them, you would not see any of this happen.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: Australia would be a place I want to go to. We missed a trip a couple of years ago, and I will never let my husband forget it.
Q: What is your favorite type of music? Favorite performer?
A: I like any type of music. I have probably had enough Justin Bieber, but would go to another concert if I had to. If there is a concert, and I’m invited, I will probably go!
Q: What is your favorite hobby?
A: Hobby? Hmm. I didn’t think anyone really has hobbies anymore.
Q: Favorite TV show? Movie?
A: Walking Dead. I’m embarrassed to say I’m addicted!