CARY, Ill. — Just off the tracks of the train depot in Cary, Illinois, is the black awning of JC's Cafe, a place known by locals for fresh coffee and warm pastries, and its famous homemade soup.
Cafe owner Juan Carlos Beristain makes it fresh every morning, using only seasonal ingredients from the local market. One of the local favorites includes butternut squash, zucchini, parsnips, yellow squash, organic carrots and sweet potato. It's good stuff, the kind of soup people fall in love with.
"As soon as they try that soup, they get in love with it, and it is a delicious soup," Beristain said.
Down the road lives Noah Dionesotes, a Cary-Grove man in the thick of multiple rounds of chemotherapy to treat his multiple sclerosis. He also loves the soup at JC's Cafe, but between his wheelchair and his treatments, he usually can't make the trip.
Then one day, Juan Carlos spotted a random post on neighborhood Facebook group mentioning Noah's situation, and his love for the cafe's soup. The next thing Noah knew, there was a knock on his door, and JC was there with a few fresh cups.
"I really feel when other people are in pain," Juan Carlos said. "I felt that I could help him at least by delivering the soup that he likes, with the nutrition that is going to help him."
Noah says Juan Carlos not only told him he not need to pay, but also promised to keep bringing the soup.
"He's like, 'I only want to see you get better,'" Noah remembers.
Noah didn't expect to see Juan Carlos again, but then there was another knock on his door.
"The second time he brought it, I was like, 'he's not lying,'" Noah said.
Over time, Juan Carlos continued to visit and bring soup, and in the process learned about Noah's condition, and met his wife and children.
"You have to do these things because you like to do them, and have that connection with people," Beristain said.
In the three short years JC's Cafe has been open, customers have become family. Juan Carlos credits lessons learned from his father, who was "always a giver" and offered support, love and help to those around him. Now that his father's health is failing, Juan Carlos says following his example is a way of honoring him.
"This is part of my way to thank him," Juan Carlos said. "I couldn't be any other way."
For over a year now, Noah has received soup deliveries several times every week.
"I think the guy's a saint ... he's an amazing human," Noah said.
Later this summer, Juan Carlos and his family plan to return to their hometown in Mexico, leaving a gaping hole under that black awning in Cary. The town will lose not only a business owner, but also a great friend.
"Every time you help somebody that appreciates what you do, that is your reward," Juan Carlos said.
Noah is approaching another round of treatments, and hopes to raise enough money through a GoFundMe to pay for stem cell treatment in Mexico.