Former COD Student Wins Crystal Pillar for Short Film on the Ross K. MacNeill Foundation

By: Brian Kleemann

Sarah Taschetta

Former College of DuPage student Sarah Taschetta won the Crystal Pillar Student Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the producers of the Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards, for her short documentary film, “Ross K. MacNeill and the Orange Jeep.”

The film shares the story of MacNeill, a Wheaton boy who lost his fight against brain cancer. Since then, the Ross K. MacNeill Foundation has raised more than $1 million to support pediatric brain cancer research. 

This is the second consecutive year that Taschetta, a senior at Columbia College Chicago, was nominated for a Crystal Pillar, and she was thrilled by the recognition. 

“The nominations alone exceeded any goals I could have set for myself going into college,” she said. “Walking away with the actual award is something I’m still trying to wrap my head around!” 

Taschetta, who grew up in Winfield, attended Wheaton North High School with Ross’ sister, Rachel, and would think about Ross’ story whenever she saw the orange Jeep driven by MacNeill’s mom. Taschetta finally reached out to his mom and asked about producing a video, which she then turned into a student project for one of her classes. 

“This award just further confirmed something so many people knew, that Ross MacNeill’s story deserves to be told,” she said. “I was simply lucky enough to be trusted by his family to tell a small part of it. I hope this brings more awareness to the foundation because they do such amazing work regarding research for pediatric brain cancer.” 

Taschetta, who pursued television production at COD through the Motion Picture/Television program, earned a Crystal Pillar nomination last year for “Sam Anderson: In My Own Words,” a video which shared the story of her friend and former Wheaton North classmate with Down syndrome. 

Now finishing her bachelor’s degree, Taschetta recently joined US99, the popular country music radio station in Chicago, as a digital content producer for its morning show with Jason Pullman and Katie Bright. She is happy that the Crystal Pillar award validated her career path. 

“I look forward to telling many more stories like Ross’ in the future,” she said. 

Find out more about the Motion Picture/Television program at College of DuPage.