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Berwyn Cubs fan hits one out of the park for someone special

Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 2:35 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:00 p.m. CDT
(Joe Sinopoli -
'Prank victim' Lindy Villalobos of Berwyn with two Cubs tickets she purchased for a Yorkville mother and her autistic son. Villalobos decided to go ahead and provide the tickets to the equally unsuspecting mother and son after learning of the joke played on her by her friends.

BERWYN –Loyal Cubs fan Lindy Villalobos of Berwyn had just got to work when her phone rang. Not wanting to take it, she decided to let it bounce to voice mail. When she did get a chance to listen to her voice mail messages a short time later, her ears were assaulted with a rendition of “Take me out to the Ballgame.”

Her friends had posted Villallobos’ phone number on Craigslist with instructions to call the number and sing the ball game song with a chance to win two free Cubs tickets. It was a prank, but that didn’t stop the calls from coming. Even after Villalobos knew she was being pranked, she made good on the promise of free tickets for someone special.

“I didn’t even know what to think,” she said. “I was just shocked to see the amount of calls I was getting. My friends are real pranksters, and this was the biggest prank they’ve ever pulled. I politely told them to take the number down. I don’t get easily upset.”

But the number didn’t come down before Villalobos got a call from Priscilla LaCoco of Yorkville. She left a message saying she would call back when her 17-year-old autistic son, Richard, returned home from school. Richard’s birthday was a few days away, she said, and it would be a real treat for her son to see the Cubs.

So Villalobos played out the prank to a generous finish. La Coco called back, and she and Richard belted out the anthem.

“At first I didn’t know [whether] or not to tell them it was a prank,” Villalobos said. “But I already decided to buy the tickets. I told them it was a prank and Priscilla said I should beat my friends up and laughed. I actually have a sister with special needs and when I got the message I knew I was going to do that. There just was no way in my heart I could not purchase these tickets.”

LaCoco said she had no idea the free ticket offer was a prank.

“So I said, ‘what’s it going to hurt,’” LaCoco said. “I thought it was good of her, especially with my son’s situation. Even though it was a prank played on her, she still followed through.”

Air Force Specialist George Navarro of Berwyn said he’s known Villalobos since high school. She was always one of those people, he said, that could be counted on to do the right thing and open her heart. He wasn’t surprised when he heard what she did.

“I thought it was really a heartfelt story,” said the 25-year-old airman who is soon off to Oman as a government contractor. “I even got a little teary-eyed.”

So much so, that Navarro just had to contact the Berwyn Life about his friend’s kindness. When Navarro returns from the Middle East, he plans to reenlist in the Air Force.

In the end, Villalobos laid down the $45 bucks for the tickets. The 2006 Morton West grad will continue to work as a clerk at Nestle Professional Beverages in Chicago, and next fall, will attend Triton College to become a radiological technician.

It’s not the first time she’s given a game to someone. Last year, her boss gave her two free tickets. Villalobos was already going, so she found a grandmother who wanted to take her grandson.

Meanwhile, she made a lifetime memory for two strangers that she said she plans to keep in touch with.

Her mom, Irene, was a little overcome by her daughter’s generosity.

“She cried so much,”Villalobos said. “She’s been telling me every day she’s so proud of me. She says I didn’t really understand the impact I made on these people’s lives. But I saw my mother struggle with my sister. I can’t say no. I do the Relay for Life every year. It’s just in my heart.”

La Coco said it would have been fine with her if Villalobos told her it was just a prank and left it at that.

“But it sure did make my son’s day,” she said.

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