It was a coming home story for one Mokena family May 18 during Lincoln-Way Central High School’s senior scholarship awards ceremony.
Mokena resident Patrick Hammar, an active member of the U.S. Marines, presented the Robert K. Hammar Memorial Scholarship on behalf of his family, much to the surprise of his mother, Katie.
In November 2013, Patrick’s brother Robert was involved in a car accident and died. The family responded by setting up a scholarship fund in the name of the late LWC student.
Hammar said the night of the awards ceremony was the first time he’d seen his family since departing for North Carolina.
“I’ve been stationed in Cherry Point for just under three years now,” he said.
Katie Hammar, of Mokena, said seeing her son after all these years stirred a number of emotions.
“[I’m] happy to see him,” she said, noting how overwhelmed and yet proud she was.
This year marked the third occasion in which a Robert K. Hammar Memorial Scholarship was offered to a Lincoln-Way Central student.
Patrick said the family likes to choose a recipient who the scholarship fits best for, and serves someone who his brother would’ve thought deserved it.
“It’s not the highest GPA; it’s not anything like that,” he said. “It’s the passion to do a trade-type job—construction, automotive, something like that, that a lot of kids don’t get those scholarship opportunities for because they get overlooked for perfect GPAs, perfect test scores, all this.”
Lincoln-Way Central senior Taylor Hanus was recognized as the recipient of this year’s award.
Hammar said his father called him to decide upon a scholarship recipient.
“He read the letter [Hanus] wrote trying to meet the criteria: races cars, wants to go into Joliet Junior College to be in the automotive field,” he said. “It fit like a glove with her, and it’s great because a lot of times you don’t see as many females.”
As part of her award, Hanus received $500 and a pair of Red Wing work boots. She is set to attend school at Joliet Junior College and major in auto mechanics.