Every day, our MOD Squad enjoys making personal connections with guests in locations all across the country. In fact, it isn’t unusual for Squad members to know their regular patrons by name and their favorite pizza combinations by heart. At our store in downtown Naperville, Illinois, a young man named Isaac visited so often that he became something like family to the staff.
Isaac first visited MOD with a large group of classmates. The Squad got to work, shouting their usual friendly greetings and manning their stations at the makeline. Over the noise and excitement, a singular voice sounded “Hello!” in response to the staff. There was Isaac, amidst a crowd of teenagers, waving and grinning at the Squad.
“You couldn’t ever miss Isaac’s smile, rubber ducky tank top or his fun hair,” said Eric Kowalski, general manager of MOD Downtown Naperville. “When he finally made it up to the register, I thanked him for replying to our hello and bought him a milkshake. The bond was forged from then on.”
A strong bond it became, with Isaac visiting the store almost every single day. Whether Isaac stopped by for an afternoon snack with friends from school or for a Pokémon GO session with his older brother, the MOD Squad was always excited to see him. He became such a familiar face, he even earned the unofficial title “Mayor of MOD.”
Isaac was regarded as one of the rare kind. “He always thought of and took care of his friends and family before himself. He was always making me smile and laugh” said Brittany, one of the Squad members who grew close to Isaac.
Outside of his MOD “mayorship”, Isaac was a successful musician, talented artist, and competitive athlete. To everyone around him, he appeared carefree and excited about life. Unbeknownst to them, he was fighting a battle that he tried to keep to himself, and was struggling with depression and anxiety.
In April 2017, when life felt too big and too hard to live, Isaac took his own life. Suicide can happen to anyone, and Isaac’s sudden departure made everyone question what they thought they knew about depression and anxiety in this community. He exhibited none of the usual warning signs that they were trained to look for.
To celebrate Isaac’s life and to help bring awareness to the prevalence of mental illness, our Downtown Naperville MOD will be hosting a special fundraiser. 100% of sales will be donated to Suicide Prevention Services of America to aid in their mission to “open minds, save lives, and restore hope through prevention, intervention and postvention using education, advocacy and collaboration.” Isaac’s smiling face has also been added to the store’s Wall of Fame, so the “Mayor’s” presence can live on.
While Isaac’s story may have ended too soon, it provides MOD an opportunity to further our mission of being a force for good in the communities we serve. As we often say, we make pizza so that we can serve people.