New Mod Pizza offering honors teen who took own life

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National pizza chain Mod Pizza is introducing a new recipe in honor of a regular at the Naperville location who committed suicide last spring. (WLS)

National pizza chain Mod Pizza is introducing a new recipe in honor of a regular who took his own life last spring.

Fifteen-year-old Isaac Pedley was a regular at his local Mod Pizza, spending days befriending staff and other customers before taking his own life last April. The teen is now immortalized on the store's wall - a bittersweet homage according to his mom.

"I know this was his happy place," she said.

Jenn Pedley said there were absolutely no outward signs that Isaac was struggling with life any more than what a parent might chalk up to teenage angst. The family had moved to Naperville from Michigan about two years ago.

But one day last spring, she said, life got to be too much for her boy with a streak of perfectionism in his creative soul. And in an instant he was gone.

"When he was struggling, when he was having trouble, and he wasn't getting all A's and B's, perfect, and it was hard and I don't think he saw you could undo that and it was too late," she said.

Knowing how much this place meant to Isaac, Mod Pizza manager Erick Kowalski reached out to his corporate bosses to do something in Isaac's memory.

"Today people know that you can talk and reach out to people and let them know something is going on in your life, and it is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of strength to say, 'Hey I need help with something,'" he said.

The result is the Isaac Pizza, a Mediterranean-style pie that will be sold in all 355 Mod Pizza shops throughout the country, plus a $50,000 donation to the Jed Foundation, a national teen suicide prevention charity.

Isaac's brother, Asher Pedley, now works at his brother's "happy place." He said the shop has taken on special meaning for his family.

"This is my family, this is more than just a pizza place to me and I feel like that is really how we let Isaac's legacy live on through this store because of how communal it is," he said.

Jenn Pedley wonders every day what more she could have done to save her baby boy, but said she now has some clarity about the road ahead.

"This could be anybody," she said. "These kids don't make decisions like adults do and I think we have created a culture for them that puts them in a lot of adult situations."

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Text START to 741741, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit jedfoundation.org/help.
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foodpizzasuicideteenteenagersmental healthu.s. & worldIllinois
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