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Spreading the (good) news in Chicagoland

Today’s column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

Spreading the (good) news in Chicagoland

The WISCH LIST

April 2, 2011

A Chicago woman is dead after she was knocked down a flight of stairs during an iPhone theft. A pool hall in north suburban Glenview has been caught selling alcohol – to a 12-year-old. And the Chicago Cubs’ are now in their 103rd at-bat and still hitless when it comes to winning a World Series championship.

Yes, wherever you look in Chicagoland, bad news abounds.

(I’m kidding about the Cubs … well, you know, sort of.)

But Chicagoan Sarah Jindra is working to offset that fact, at least a little bit, and in her own unique way.

“I just want people to realize that there are those in the community who are doing good things, fabulous things,” explained Jindra, a traffic reporter for Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM 91.5 and fill-in for WMAQ-Ch. 5.

And that was exactly why, in January 2010, Jindra launched her website INSPIREmechicago.com. She figured people throughout the greater Chicago area could use some good news – and that she was just the person to deliver it to them.

“Everyone always complains about only seeing bad news,” explained Jindra, a native of Westmont who graduated from the University of Illinois in 2004 and formerly worked as TV reporter for WCIA in Champaign. “But it’s not that good news isn’t out there or isn’t being reported by TV stations, newspapers and radio.

“It’s just that you have to search too hard to find those stories. So, I wanted to provide a resource to find it all in one place. Kind of fill a different niche.”

The niche that Jindra has carved out for herself and her readers at INSPIREmechicago.com – which features the tagline “Good News Only” – is filled with the kinds of uplifting stories that often seem to slip through the cracks or get overshadowed by more sobering reports.

“Serious news is very important, too,” Jindra said. “But when I was a TV reporter in Champaign, I really loved when I got a chance to tell positive stories, and not just miserable ones. I missed that.”

Just this week, Jindra made sure her readers didn’t miss the news about a 22-year-old Yale student from the Chicago projects who plans to move back home after she graduates in May so she can aid other kids growing up in low-income neighborhoods like she did.

She let readers know she that someone with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” had discovered her site and called her, asking for help in finding inspiring families in the Chicago area to feature on the show.

And she shared news that “My Run,” a new film documenting one man’s powerful story about running an incredible 75 marathons in 75 consecutive days to raise cancer awareness was making its nationwide debut this week.

You don’t need a news flash to know that cancer is bad news. Anyone who has battled the disease or has had a loved one fight it knows that all too well. But, true to form, Jindra this spring is also working to generate good news about bad and has been chosen by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as one of 14 candidates for its 2011 “Man and Woman of the Year” campaign.

For 10 weeks, ending on May 21, she and the other candidates are competing to raise money to help support patient services and life-saving blood cancer research. Last year, the competition raised more than $647,000 – and Jindra currently is raising funds through a variety of fun Chicago events, including a Cubs rooftop party on Sunday.

Who knows, maybe she can bring them good news, too.

To learn more about Jindra’s “Woman of the Year” campaign, visit sarahjindraandfriends.blogspot.com.