Guest Column: Heart of Rockford Awards coverage misses mark

Guest Column: Heart of Rockford Awards coverage misses mark

By By Chris Wachowiak

So often in life we wonder, what shall I become? Shall I become an astronaut; shall I become an athlete, or shall I become a rock star? I am none of those today. I am a 26-year-old kid finding a focus on what I wish to become. My name is Chris Wachowiak, and I own a bar called Kryptonite. I had the biggest moral dilemma opening a bar to profit off people’s vices, but Kryptonite is not about individuals’ vices. It has become a platform for individuals; it has become an outlet for musicians; it has become an outlet for change, and this is why I feel compelled today to write this.

The Heart of Rockford Awards occurred last Wednesday. It was great to see the local press there. I saw the newspaper, all the TV stations represented, and I saw the mayor there, all for the Heart of Rockford Awards. The press and the mayor stayed for the cocktail hour and for the keynote speaker, whom I’m sure everyone is Rockford knows, is from the “Magnificent Mile” in Chicago. Before, during and right after his speech, the mayor and the press all left. Not one of these four stayed to see the recipients for “The Heart of Rockford.”

Now I’m not sure if the Heart of Rockford means that Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is the heart of Rockford. What was the event about? Was it about local people investing their life savings and 80-hour work weeks into an area that middle-aged people feel afraid to come down to at night? Did anyone read in the paper and find out why these awards are around? Did anyone discover in the paper why these people earned these awards? Did the paper make you understand what these businesses do, or even more, what they are doing in an area that those who remember watching I Love Lucy say, “Downtown is dangerous”?

The truth of the matter is, there is more danger at CherryVale Mall than there is in downtown Rockford, but that is neither here nor there. The point is, you have the youth of Rockford standing up and begging to be accounted for doing instead of complaining. When I moved back to Rockford from college, I hated Rockford because there was nothing to do here. I was ready to move out of town, but thanks to my family, I stayed. My family taught me that the world was full of complainers and had few doers.

There are reasons there are sayings like “walk the walk and stop the talk.” The walkers in life have to be held accountable, and who in this day and age wants to be held accountable? I do! I love Rockford and the people too much to have Rockford ignore Rockford. I believe in Rockford too much to have Rockford let a guy from Chicago be the focus of the Register Star in the article on “The Heart of Rockford.”

I want to let you know where the heart of Rockford can be found. The heart of Rockford is surrounded by where you wrote that article at your desk at the Star building. The heart of Rockford is around the river. How ironic it can be found around water. Water is a key element to sustain life. Yet, the life you want to sustain is focused so far away from the water. You focused our pride, our hopes, our dreams in Chicago. Shame on you! Stand up for Rockford, for it is the city you write for! If you want to write about Chicago, go move to Chicago so that someone who cares about Rockford can have your job. Stand up and be accounted for. I am calling you out to fight. Fight for Rockford! Believe in Rockford! Because I would never say or do anything that I am not ready to stand up and fight for myself! Hold me accountable! I dare you to! Call me out if you believe I’m wrong, and damn me if I will not make a positive difference in Rockford, for I am not in the business of vices; I am in the business of making a difference. I have not become an athlete, a movie star or a rock star. I have become a bar owner wanting to better Rockford.

Chris Wachowiak is the owner of Kryptonite nightclub.

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