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From darkness to light: Family uses tragedy to help others

Glendale Heights, IL – Art was Chris Lyons’ creative outlet, especially when the troubled teen felt no one understood him. He poured himself into the drawings he created at Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School in Glendale Heights. It’s that youthful artistic spirit that the Lyons family of Darien seeks to recognize with the establishment of the Christopher Lyons Memorial Fund at the GlenOaks Hospital Foundation. The fund is dedicated to the memory of Chris, whose life tragically ended July 25, 2007.

“We know how much the school did to help Chris and how much kids like Chris need help,” said Mike Lyons, Chris’s father. “This is our way of doing something in return. It’s amazing how talented some of these kids are. Many of them just need direction and confidence.”

The Christopher Lyons Memorial Fund supports Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School’s mission to expand the expressive therapies to reach more kids like Chris, who exhibited tremendous growth by participating in the school’s art therapy program. Mike and Sue Lyons, Chris’s parents, recently presented creative arts awards to eight students at the school. Each student received a $50 gift card. The fund also will be used to purchase iPods, software and other technology, musical instruments and other materials for the school’s expressive therapy program.

“We strive to give students the tools they need to succeed not only in school but also in life,” said Lisa Grigsby, director of Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School.

Chris enrolled at Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School in seventh grade, spent a year of high school at a Montana boarding school, and returned to GlenOaks – this time at the school’s west campus in North Aurora – for his senior year, graduating in 2007. Like many GlenOaks students, Chris suffered from attention deficit disorder and emotional problems. Although he had a high I.Q., he struggled academically and socially. Shortly after graduating, 18-year-old Chris was fatally struck by a train in unincorporated Will County between Naperville and Aurora.

“Donations to the Christopher Lyons Memorial Fund will allow us to help kids like Chris,” said Karen Lawler, executive director of the GlenOaks Hospital Foundation. “We are so thankful to the Lyons family for giving back in this heartfelt way.”

Designed for children with learning disabilities and emotional and psychiatric problems, Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School was founded in 1995. Elementary through high-school age students earn normal academic credits while addressing their therapeutic goals. Along with traditional individual and group therapy, the school uses recreation, pets, music and art activities with certified therapists to help with physical, social and emotional growth.

The school is staffed by a caring group of teachers, nurses, social workers, therapists, clinical psychologists and a psychiatrist; there is one staff member for every three students. Its enrollment is approximately 120 students at north (main) campus in Glendale Heights, 40 at the west campus in North Aurora and 30 at the south campus in Glen Ellyn. The school is funded partly through local school districts in the six-county area that are reimbursed by the state and partly through Adventist GlenOaks Hospital and GlenOaks Hospital Foundation.

To donate to the Christopher Lyons Memorial Fund, call the GlenOaks Hospital Foundation at (630) 539-1510.

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Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.  To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.