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Friends help Lindenhurst family deal with double tragedy

LisStyles Bonillwith her sNicholas Bonill18 Lindenhurst. | Special Sun-Times Media

Lisa Styles Bonilla with her son, Nicholas Bonilla, 18, of Lindenhurst. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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If You Go

When: Saturday, Dec. 1

Time: 5:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Where: C’Mon Inn, 34028 Route 45, Grayslake

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Updated: January 29, 2013 2:13AM

LINDENHURST — Five weeks after they buried their mother, the Bonilla family had to bury 18-year-old Nicholas “Nick” Bonilla.

In an effort to ease the Lindenhurst family’s emotional and financial difficulties, friends and family are throwing a benefit party Saturday, Dec. 1, that has ballooned into a large event, according to event organizer Donna Juszczyk of Grayslake.

She was childhood friends with Lisa Styles Bonilla. Lisa died Oct. 15. She was survived by seven children, ranging in age from 9 months to 18, until Nick died after his car ended up in Lake Miltmore early on Nov. 23.

“He was very outgoing. He liked to laugh. That’s what I’ll always remember — after mom passed away, he could still laugh and joke,” said his sister, Brooke Bonilla, 17.

Nick was helping to keep the Bonilla family’s spirits up, Brooke said.

He was driving his car eastbound when he crossed over Nathan Hale Drive and drove about 200 feet through a yard, struck a boat lift and landed upside-down in the Lake Villa area lake. He was trapped inside the vehicle and drowned. The Lake Villa Dive Team arrived and removed him.

Nick was about three weeks away from his 19th birthday. He had completed his GED and was planning to go to school to be an automotive mechanic, his sister said.

Saturday’s fund-raiser was already in the planning stages after the Bonilla children’s mother died. Money raised will help defray funeral expenses, Juszczyk said. Lisa did not have life insurance.

“Nick was part of the planning stages. He was looking forward to going,” Brooke said.

Saturday’s event will have a live DJ, food and more than 40 prize drawing items, Juszczyk said. She has been inundated with requests, some from strangers, offering to help with the fund-raiser.

“With Christmas coming up, people wanted to get involved,” Juszczyk said.

Proceeds will be used to purchase Christmas gifts for the children. If enough money is raised, funds will be set aside for the children’s future, she added. The Bonilla children range in age from 9-month-old twins, to 9, 13, 14 and 17.

“The goal (of the event) is really to take relief off their father and surviving family. Who wants to go (Christmas gift) shopping? They’re definitely not in the holiday spirit,” Juszczyk said.

Brooke said she and her siblings were excited about Saturday’s event.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun. It’s been sad,” Brooke said.

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