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Oak Park River Forest sophomore Hattie Grimm was surprised Thursday with an award from The Angel Gabriel Foundation co-founders, former OPRF student Judith Ruiz-Branch and her mother Yolanda Ruiz.
The mother and daughter team walked into Grimm's design class at the beginning of class period. The teacher dimmed the lights and Ruiz-Branch pressed play on a video queued on a laptop in the front of the room. WGN News anchor Micah Mattere appeared on the screen and thanked the class for their hard work and then announced Hattie as the winner. Mattere's gesture was a favor for Ruiz-Branch, who has been a news writer at WGN since she graduated from Columbia College in 2010.
Ruiz-Branch and her mother created The Angel Gabriel Foundation after a family member died from cancer in 2011.
Gabriel, uncle to Ruiz-Branch and brother to Ruiz, had been unemployed while he was battling cancer, Ruiz said, making paying for treatment challenging.
Since the Ruiz family understood the overwhelming costs that cancer patients procure throughout treatment, they created an organization to help ease some of the patients' financial burdens through scholarships.
Their goals are not simply to help financially, but also holistically.
"We want to provide spiritual, financial and moral support to those with cancer," Ruiz said.
Treating the whole person for the foundation means promoting healthy living, Ruiz said, adding, "I would love to partner with Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or Vitamix."
The first step for the foundation, however, Ruiz said, was getting a logo to make the brand of their organization official. That's when the logo design contest formed.
Before the contest was well known, Grimm had submitted a design.
Grimm's design teacher had told the class about the nonprofit's design contest and, under what the foundation's founders call "divine inspiration," Grimm created a logo. The design seemed to perfectly embody both the organization's vision and the man for which it was created.
Sitting at a table with Hattie and her mother Betsy in a room adjacent to the school's design lab, Ruiz described how the hands reaching out in the logo where just like her brothers.
"We are passionate. We want to make sure people know that we're here," Ruiz-Branch said. "We are a ministry of presence. Cancer is so devastating, but we want to lighten the load and inspire people to keep fighting. Helping will give them ammunition."
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