Robert Montelongo, Chicago Police Department Chaplain, offers his view on whether or not Christmas miracles extend beyond vintage Jimmy Stewart movies, and he says they do. He spoke about the power of prayer.
Far more powerful were two real-life examples:
Diana and Brian Heilig weren’t expected to have a baby anytime soon. Diana was supposed to give birth to baby Grayson sometime in mid-October. Instead, she gave birth on July 16. Not only did doctors believe Diana might not make it, born at 26 weeks and 1.5 pounds, the doctors weren’t sure Grayson would live, either. At times, it was touch and go and day by day.
Not just a premature baby, Grayson is known as a micropremie. Mexican doctors did their best, but their technology isn’t what is in America, so Grayson needed to be moved, and insurance would not pay. The internet did wind up paying. Brian and Diana made friends they didn’t know they had. People around the world they will never meet were pulling for Grayson, and praying for Grayson, and even supported financially when insurance fell through.
They moved to the states only to be greeted by yet another obstacle, Hurricane Maria.
Today, so far, Grayson is healthy, thriving, and growing, meeting marks that any baby might. Grayson is known as “Super Baby G” and even has his own logo—one people have voluntarily picked up on.
I asked the chaplain, “Is this a miracle?”
“You bet,” he says.
Kathy Mackal fell in love….with a dog.
This wasn’t your ordinary dog. This dog was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at the SPCA Puerto Vallarta. Carmen had been hit by a car and left at the side of the road for dead…for a week. Somehow, despite severe damage, lots of blood loss, and very little food, she managed to survive. Most animal shelters would have humanely euthanized an animal in her condition. But the SPCA Puerto Vallarta feels that all dogs should be given a chance at life, and they manage to somehow find the resources when they believe the dog has a shot at survival, followed by good quality of life.
Carmen wanted to live, though her back two legs required amputation, as gangrene had set in. Her situation was precarious, but Kathy talks about how with TLC from “cuddlers” and with excellent medical care, Carmen somehow pulled through. That’s Christmas miracle number one: that Carmen even lived. Miracle number two is how Kathy and Carmen found each other and fell in love.
Today, Carmen is living in Oregon with Kathy and her husband, Jeffray.
I again asked the chaplain “Is this a miracle?”
“You bet,” he says.
We were all lifted up by these stories but also in music with performances by Chicago Police Department honor guard vocalist Arturo Andonaegui, the best-dressed police officer ever. If there’s an official police event requiring song, Arturo is usually there in voice, and what a voice he has!
Trish Keporos, who breaks into song anytime you ask (likely even in the subway or on the street), performs around Chicago, and these days with Bob Solone at the Drake Hotel. Solone is a Chicago legend, going on his fiftieth year in show biz. He offers stories of some folks sitting in with him: Stevie Wonder, Debbie Reynolds, and others.
Still, even these seasoned, well-established and respected performers were blown away by 15-year-old Emily Montelongo. Her high notes nearly broke the glass in our Allstate Showcase Studio. Emily was accompanied by classically trained pianist Vickie Lowczyck.
WGN Radio has a long history of great performers in the showcase studio. This evening of song and Christmas miracles will go down as a classic.
I feel honored to have been a part of this, as the host and general ringmaster, and I’m grateful to Patti to allow me to attempt to fill her shoes.
This wasn’t an evening about religion, it was about love, and that is, after all, the spirit of Christmas. If you missed it, it’s worth checking out.