LAKE IN THE HILLS – When Arturo Flores moved to the U.S. at age 15, he couldn’t speak English.
On Wednesday night, he spoke – in English – of success, struggle and resiliency.
Now 33, Flores is one of the 12 people honored at the 13th annual McHenry County’s Best Under 40 dinner, hosted by the Northwest Herald at Boulder Ridge Country Club in Lake in the Hills.
An independent real estate broker for most of his career, Flores isn’t used to getting recognition, even though he now owns three businesses.
But Wednesday, he was praised, and wasted no time in crediting his family – particularly his mother and his wife – for much of the success. His mother was effectively a single mother, he said, because his father moved to the U.S. long before the rest of the family.
Flores’ wife, Teresa Flores, nominated him for the award.
“She has been with me since Day 1, supporting me with all my crazy ideas – one of them was marrying me,” Flores said of Teresa.
The Flores family, like many others, encountered some tough times during the housing market crash.
So Teresa went to work full time.
“We were not making ends meet, so she went out there and got a full-time job to support our family, our kids, to pay the bills, to support me in continuing my real estate career,” Flores, of Woodstock, said. “Thanks to that, and many other things that she did, that’s the reason I’m standing here today.”
Leslie Blake, 29, was tied for the distinction of youngest honoree Wednesday night. The executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County said her youngest sister saw her in the newspaper and wanted to know what she could do to become part of a “best under 10” list.
“This got me thinking about those around me who I consider to be the best,” Blake said. “A common element emerged in each and every person. It’s all about the power of one. Each person has the greatest power – the power of the individual. An individual armed with the spirit of independence can prove that the power of one positive action, one voice, one hope, can prevail.”
Blake reflected on how that is carried out each day at Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, where “bigs” help “littles” learn how to overcome adversity and uplift them.
“The reality is that every child is one caring adult away from being a success story,” Blake said.
There were 10 others honored.
• Wayne Jett, 34, McHenry – mayor of McHenry, owner of Jett’s Heating & Air, Sideline Sports Marketing and McHenry Downtown Indoor Theater
• Adam Wallen, 33, Crystal Lake – architect, McHenry County building official
• Shaun Tessmer, 35, Crystal Lake – manager of adviser services at Exemplar Financial Network in Crystal Lake
• Matt Potts, 30, Crystal Lake – musician, business owner, president of Culture, Arts and Music and Potts and Pans
• Deidre Martinez, 38, Crystal Lake – membership development manager for the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce
• Paul Letizia, 38, McHenry – owner of Financial Dynamics Inc. in McHenry
• Bonnie Ungaro, 35, Crystal Lake – human resources recruiter with Centegra Health System
• Stephen Taylor, 33, Crystal Lake – technology consultant and CEO at LeadingIT in Crystal Lake
• Patricia Miller, 35, Crystal Lake – owner/CEO of Matrix 4 in Woodstock
• David Lammers, 29, Palatine – financial adviser at Edward Jones in McHenry