Fenton senior wins Chicago Bears award
On the long list of Fenton senior Eric Moreno's volunteer projects, one stands out.
Moreno, a lineman on the Bison football team, recently was named a Chicago Bears Community High School All-Stars Award winner. It recognizes players making a positive impact in their community.
He certainly has the community service down, volunteering for Feed My Starving Children, the American Red Cross, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, World Resource Institute, UNICEF and Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago.
It's his time working with the Wood Dale/Bensenville food pantry that meant the most.
"That did hit home," Moreno said. "We've all been in tough spots. Seeing families going there reminds us where we all come from. In Bensenville, we are a tight-knit community. It reminds you we are all coming from rough spots but we can come together and provide for each other."
That attitude is what made Fenton coach Matthew Lynch nominate Moreno.
"He's a great young man," Lynch said. "He's devoted to his education. One thing we try to express to players is if you commit to that no one can take that away from you.
"(Volunteering) is an education you get that goes far beyond any classroom. You don't forget this. It's something you can give and pass on to someone else. If we continue to spread the message this world becomes a much better place."
Moreno is a member of the National Honor Society, Fenton Faces and a student mentor.
He works at Goldfish Swim school teaching lessons to underprivileged Hispanic youths. Between sports, school, work and volunteering, he learned how important it is to balance his time.
"My bedtime is a little later now," Moreno said. "We are pushing things a little further into the night with work and school work. Splitting up time comes with high school. Coach Lynch was on everybody that academics and community service comes first. Just kind of doing that right off the bat."
Winning the award provided good news during a senior year that saw his normal football season pushed to a spring season.
"This year I realized how therapeutic football is for me," Moreno said. "Something you can turn to when feeling stressed with school and everything. It was definitely hard. But we are all hanging in there, all going through the same stuff."
Moreno said he was surprised and honored to win the award. He directed the $500 he received for winning to Shriners Children Hospital.
"Eric lives his life knowing that every day on this earth is a gift," Lynch said. "He continues to work hard and give to others knowing the world is a much better place when you open your heart to those in need.
"This is the mark of a true leader. One does not replace a young man like Eric. One just hopes others try to emulate him and do the best they can."