ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — As the new school year starts, there’s still an empty feeling for many of the girls on the John Hersey High School track team, which lost a beloved member over the summer.
Now, the girls are coming together to honor her memory.
Alyssa Lendino, 16, would have been a junior on the track team this year. She was killed in a horrific car crash in July. Coach Jim Miks says the team has miles to go before it heals.
"These girls are sticking together, grieving her together, healing together," Miks said. "Wonderful kids lost a wonderful person.”
The Lendino family was on its way home July 21 when a driver going 107 mph smashed into the family's SUV at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Hintz Road. Lendino's father and 12-year-old sister were critically injured. Lendino was killed.
The car's driver, 30-year-old Adam Grunin, has been was charged with reckless homicide.
"It’s devastated us," principal Gordon Sisson said. "We’re a very tight school community and this young lady was an exceptional person. There isn’t anybody that ever met her that didn’t think highly of her."
The Hersey High School community — especially Lendino's teammates — was determined not to let her memory fade. So locals decided to raise money for the family with a shoe donation drive.
“We said, 'Well. Track? Shoes?' Everybody’s got a new pair for cross county, so I set the fundraiser up with Sneakers4Funds," parent Nancy Jackson said.
Sneakers4Funds is a group that pays for used shoes. Those shoes are then cleaned and sent to people in the developing world. Money from the fundraiser will go to the Lendino family — the next step in the journey to healing.
Shoes can be donated at the following UPS stores through Oct. 13:
- 310 Busse Hwy, Park Ridge, IL 60068
- 309 E. Rand Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60004
- 126 E. Wing St., Arlington Heights, IL 60004
- 119 S. Emerson Ave., Mount Prospect, IL 60056
- 1749 W. Golf Rd., Mount Prospect, IL 60056
- 1153 S. Lee St., Des Plaines, IL 60016
- 738 E. Dundee Rd, Palatine, IL 60074
- 836 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Elk Grove Village, IL 60007