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Patient Stories

Meet Two Northwestern Medicine Humanitarians

Honoring Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

In memory of the work and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Northwestern Medicine honors employees who embody the spirit of community and humanitarianism through the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Awards. Award winners exemplify the ideals of community giving, equality, unity and excellence. 

These are the two 2021 Humanitarian Award winners.

Barefoot Nurse Runs on Giving

Salacnib "Sonny" Molina, RN, knows how tough feet are. As the clinical shift coordinator and team leader for the Orthopaedic and Podiatry Surgery Clinic at Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital, he helps feet recover from all types of injuries. In his personal life, he puts his own feet to the test, running barefoot in races around the world in every climate and terrain. He's run barefoot across multiple states and for multiple consecutive days. Molina holds 10 Guinness World Records for running half marathons, marathons and ultramarathons barefoot. 

Molina also holds a Guinness World Record for the farthest distance walking barefoot on Lego bricks, an effort that raised $1,225 to buy Lego toy sets for families who couldn't afford gifts during the holiday season. In conjunction with the event, he also accepted donations of Lego sets from the community.

While this feat seems extraordinary, Molina considers himself an "ordinary person who loves to share kindness, especially with less fortunate families."

Molina's humanitarian work goes beyond using his feet:

  • He makes and sells fishing lures, donating 100% of his profits to families in need.
  • He organizes smaller running races in the community to raise funds for people in his community of Woodstock, Illinois, and in his home country, the Philippines.
  • He has organized medical and dental missions to the Philippines, and helped build and fill a library for a school there.
  • He offers free CPR classes to schools.
  • He donates toys, shoes and clothes to children all over the world.

"Sonny participates in many humanitarian projects out of pure kindness and truly enjoys the gift of giving," says Jennifer Martin, patient care manager at McHenry Hospital. "Sonny is an amazing nurse who goes out of his way to ensure that physicians, patients and his nursing team have what they need. He's an inspiration to all who meet him."

Concierge and Community Servant

Donna Linder is a concierge at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. Outside of work, she devotes her time to her community in Zion, Illinois, a north suburb of Chicago, and Lake County, Illinois.

"Donna is a dedicated Northwestern Medicine employee and a community servant," says Veda Nicole Cartwright, a fellow concierge at Lake Forest Hospital. "I have lived in this community for 62 years and been an eyewitness to the impact her service has had on somewhat-forgotten neighborhoods."

The list of Linder's humanitarian efforts is long, and her impact in the community is deep. She has served as:

  • A member of the Illinois Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, an international service organization, for 7 years. As a two-term president for the Beach Park, Winthrop Harbor and Zion club, Linder has dedicated considerable time to providing hands-on support for youth programs both locally and internationally. She has also supported food pantries, literacy projects and provided human and financial resources to community-based service organizations supported by the Rotary Club.
  • The volunteer coordinator for City of Miracles International, an outside-of-church-walls organization.
  • Chair, vice chair and secretary for the City of Zion Fire and Police Commission.
  • Chair and recording secretary for the City of Zion Citizens Law Enforcement Advisory Board.
  • A member of the Realtors Political Action Committee.
  • A member of the State of Illinois Fire and Police Commission Legislative Committee.
  • A member of the Mt. Zion Development Corporation.
  • A member of the board of directors for the B.J. Gaston Bethesda Village, a housing community for older adults.

Linder's philosophy is "be an everyday person with boots on the ground." She's helped countless youth get scholarships in the community. She's helped prepare meals to serve to older adults and adults with disabilities in Lake County. She's quietly helped families in need at critical moments of life, including people who have lost young people in shootings and gang violence. She's unofficially known as the "People's Mayor" in the community of Zion because of the service and care she provides to families in need.

Every day, Linder follows Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's vision for mankind. A favorite quote of hers is, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'what are you doing for others?'"