Saturday, September 21, 2019

It's Isa's way

Street dedicated in memory of Garfield Ridge teen

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

The 5200 block of South Rutherford will always be a place
Isa's sign is unveiled by her her sister, Lexi.
where people can dance with Isa—so to speak—and be inspired by the life of a Garfield Ridge teenager.

Family, friends, neighbors and even complete strangers gathered on Sept. 20 at 52nd and Rutherford to witness the unveiling of a street sign that proclaims the block to be honorary Isabel Lopez Way.
Isabel "Isa" Lopez

A self-described “dancer for life” who enjoyed Broadway stage productions and danced competitively in local troupes, Isabel “Isa” Lopez succumbed to her public, inspiring fight against cancer in 2017.

“She was a beautiful young woman who loved life,” said 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares, who played a key role in obtaining the street designation. “She loved her family, and she loved dancing. The strength of Isa and her family is an example to all of us. Let this sign remind us of her love and courage. Each time we drive by this block or we walk down this street, let this sign remind us of what true courage really looks like; because it’s Isa on the dance floor, with a smile on her face.”

Tabares presented extra street signs to Isa’s mother, Victoria,
Alderman Silvana Tabares hugs Isa's mom, Victoria.
and father, Roberto.

“People often tell me that I’m so strong and courageous,” Victoria said as she stood shoulder to shoulder with Roberto. “I am strong because of Isa. Isa taught us about strength and courage. She is the reason that Roberto, Lexi (Isa’s sister) and I continue to live. We live for her. We live for the things she can no longer do, and we know that she is with us every step of the way.

“I know she is with us now, and I know she would want to turn this into a giant party—with a lot of dancing, of course. That is our Isabel: so full of life, so loving, kind and caring.”
Lexi’s remarks echoed those of her mother, and she climbed a ladder and unveiled the street sign, as the dozens of people in attendance applauded.


Isabel was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma on Feb. 12, 2015 and began chemotherapy the following day—her 15th birthday.

“We could not believe this was happening,” her mother recalled. “Isa was a healthy 14-year-old dancer. Dancing is what she loves. This was her freshman year at Queen of Peace High School, and she was looking forward to a new chapter of her life.”

In her battle with cancer, Isabel partnered with the American Cancer Society to educate and motivate millions. Her image appeared on posters and large public billboards, and an ACS video public service announcement featuring her has aired nationally.

Like most of her classmates, Isa transferred to St. Laurence High School when Queen of Peace shut its doors. Illness prevented her from ever attending classes at St. Laurence; but in a Facebook post, school officials said, “We still consider her a part of the Viking family.”

A number of boys and girls from St. Laurence were on hand to show support.

Also on hand was the student band of Byrne Elementary School, Isa’s alma mater, a pipes and drum contingent from the Emerald Society, Chicago Police Department, and other supporters.

Editor's note: Here is some footage we shot of the unveiling ceremony.

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