On May 12, approximately 20 volunteers wearing yellow aprons and holding collection canisters will be stationed near stores and in intersections throughout Schaumburg as part of the Les Turner ALS Foundation’s Tag Days drives.
Schaumburg resident Nicole Marts is spearheading this first-time effort in honor of her uncle who was diagnosed with ALS in May of 2011. A true grassroots campaign, Tag Days helps increase awareness of ALS and also raises funds to support medical research, patient services and educational activities. The Schaumburg Tag Days drive is one of nearly 30 community drives in the Chicagoland area.
Marts and her family have been active volunteers with the Les Turner ALS Foundation, but have never organized, or participated in, a Tag Days drive. Volunteers typically commit to a two-hour shift and are assigned to highly-visible locations, such as Dominick’s, Walgreens, or the median at a busy intersection.
Marts is motivated to make a difference to those affected by ALS. When her uncle was diagnosed with ALS, she was already familiar with the disease and how it can impact a family. She had witnessed a friend’s father fight ALS a few years earlier. News of her uncle’s diagnosis devastated their large, close-knit family and each family member has been coping with the situation in his/her own way. For Marts, taking a leadership role in the Les Turner ALS Foundation’s Tag Days campaign was a natural measure.
“All I can give is my time and when I learned about Tag Days, I considered it to be a perfect way to get involved, help raise money and increase awareness,” Marts said in a news release. “I don’t want others to experience what we are facing, so I’m eager to do whatever I can that might help people with the disease today as well as those in the future.”
Marts’ uncle was a longtime meat cutter. A few years ago, when he began experiencing weakness in his hands he was concerned, but he dismissed the changes as an occupational issue. He did not seek treatment for many months and the problem worsened. When he finally sought medical advice, the doctors were unsure of what was causing the weakness, and ran countless tests. Marts’ uncle was referred to a specialist who diagnosed him with ALS. Today, he has lost strength in his hands and arms, and has difficulty with everyday tasks. Despite the illness, he remains positive and is nourished by the comfort of his large, extended family.
“We are grateful to Nicole Marts for putting her time and energy into the Tag Days drive in Schaumburg, which is a community where ALS affects a relatively fair amount of patients and families,” said Wendy Abrams, executive director of the Les Turner ALS Foundation, in a news release. “Because Tag Days requires only a few supplies and many dedicated volunteers, we are able to invest a very high percentage of proceeds directly into critical services that benefit the ALS community.”
Since 1994, thousands of volunteers have helped with this important effort. There were six Tag Days drives held in May of 1994; this year Tag Days captains will organize donation drives in nearly 30 communities. The Les Turner ALS Foundation has a goal of raising more than $100,000 from Tag Days. The campaign is sponsored by Patch.com, VisoGraphics and Sta-Bil.
This year throughout May, ALS Awareness Month, volunteers will hit the streets in the following communities: Algonquin; Barrington; Batavia; Buffalo Grove; Chicago neighborhoods/venues (Lincoln Park, Union Station); Crystal Lake; Elgin, Evergreen Park; Flossmoor; Glenview; LaPorte, IN; Lincolnwood; Margeno; Mount Prospect; New Lenox; Northbrook; Northfield; Park Ridge; Royal Oak, MI; Schaumburg; Skokie; Sycamore; Western Springs; and Wheaton.
To volunteer for Tag Days in Schaumburg, call Nicole Marts at 815-762-1033. For information about ALS, visit www.lesturnerals.org or find the Les Turner ALS Foundation on Facebook and follow the organization on Twitter.