Names in the News: People To Watch in Oak Lawn
Michael Blaha runs half-marathons to raise awareness of neurofibromatosis in honor of a former student. Det. Brian Duffy catches bad guys. And Lt. Vincent Griffin saves the lives of cardiac patients.
Michael Blaha, part-time religion teacher at St. Gerald’s Catholic Church, woke up one morning 20 years and decided to start running. He soon discovered that he had a knack for it and last year competed in his first Chicago Marathon. Inspired by a former student, John Peltzer, who was born with neurofibromatosis, Blaha has dedicated a year of half-marathons in John’s honor. “What was stunning to me is that NF is a more common hereditary disease than multiple sclerosis, Tay-Sachs, and Huntington’s,” Blaha told Patch. Today (May 6), Blaha is running on behalf of Midwest NF in the First Midwest Bank Southwest Half-Marathon in Palos Heights.
‘Dedicated to the Needs of the Community’
Oak Lawn Police Detective Brian Duffy barely mentioned himself when accepting the Oak Lawn Lions Club’s “Police Officer of the Year” award. OLPD Chief Bill Villanova dipped deep into Duffy’s personnel records, recounting a 1992 incident where Duffy ran three times into a smoke-filled garage to rescue an elderly gentleman who had suffered from a stroke. A 30-year veteran of the village police force, Duffy is a highly decorated and commemorated police officer.
‘The Desire To Serve’
Lt. Vincent Griffin, a 19-year veteran of the Oak Lawn Fire Department never did anything that set him apart from his colleagues. Accepting the Oak Lawn Lions Club’s “Firefighter of the Year” award, Griffin said that firefighting “is a profession of teamwork.” He also threw a little fire and brimstone into his speech, calling the loss of firefighters by retirement or attrition a potentially “catastrophic shot to the department.”