AURORA, Ill. — Every Tuesday for the last few weeks WGN News has been highlighting “remarkable women” in our communities.
The call was put out for people to nominate the most remarkable women they know. The kind of woman who inspires, motivates and lifts hearts. A difference maker. After pouring through hundreds of nominations, we narrowed it down to just four.
Mirna Lopez Rivera is the fourth finalist.
Though she’s never thrown a right hook, Lopez Rivera has always been a fighter.
She also has vision.
When this Aurora business woman saw a dilapidated community gym she took pictures to the next city council meeting.
“Eventually the park district knocked down the old gym and built the new gym,” she said.
A gym now busting at the seams with young people and Lopez Rivera says she is inspired by their energy.
As the gym they find a safe haven.
“It’s an alternative to the streets,” she said. “All these kids would be in the streets. … I love this city and everything that’s it’s fabric.”
She has received many community accolades and awards that were all inspired by a promise made 18 years ago.
“In 2002, I was hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism,” she said. “ had multiple clots. I spoke to god and said, ‘If you give me the opportunity, I want to be a tool. If you see me though this I want to be your tool. I want to serve and help any of the people that I can.’”
It’s a pact she has made good on year after year, cooking for a homeless center , singlehandedly resurrecting Aurora’s Puerto Rican parade, fundraising for college scholarships and joining in on relief efforts in Mexico and Puerto Rico in 2017.
Her biggest champion was her husband Orlando, who passed just weeks after learning of her “Remarkable Woman” nomination.
“He said, ‘You know what? I want you to do this. I really want you to do this. It’s something you deserve.’”