Whether it is setting up for a Walk to Defeat ALS kick-off party or lugging Disco to Defeat ALS material across the city, working with the ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter is always an adventure! This past Saturday, I volunteered at the Lakeview Polar Bear Club Polar Plunge with the Chicago ALSA. The Lakeview Polar Bear Club is a non-profit organization in Illinois dedicated to helping families in need. There were two families benefiting from the event this year – the Bundy’s and the Hogg’s. The Hogg family is affected by ALS/MND. Derek Hogg, an Illinois firefighter and father of two young boys, has been living with the disease for a few years. The donations from this plunge will help Derek and his family pay for therapy, medications, and more. The weather on the day of the plunge was absolutely gorgeous. I was worried it would be freezing, especially right next to Lake Michigan, but we could not have asked for better weather. The plunge was originally supposed to be held at Oak Street Beach, but was moved to North Avenue Beach due to icy conditions in the water. This event was canceled last year because of poor weather conditions, so everyone was excited to be back at the beach this year.
I assisted with selling merchandise (hoodies, hats, t-shirts, etc.). All the proceeds went to both families. It was wonderful to see so many people stepping up to help others. I also had the opportunity to meet Derek and Holly Hogg. They were so sweet. I hate that terrible things happen to such amazing people. If you would like to read more about Derek, please go to http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/01/15/firefighter-fighting-for-his-pension-after-als-diagnosis/. The Bundy family lives in Ohio, so they were unable to attend the event. I helped sell merchandise until the beginning of the plunge. Many of the plungers were in swim trunks or bikinis. Just watching them enter the water made me feel cold! Brrrrrrr! A few of the participants told me that being in the cold water was not that bad – it is when they get out of the water that the freezing air really hits them. After everyone dried off, we all headed to an after party at Hopsmith Tavern. I tagged along with the Chicago ALSA because they needed assistance. It was unbelievable. The party was held on the second floor and it was completely packed. There was no place to sit down and eat. We finally ended up going downstairs and quietly enjoyed our food. The seating may have been disastrous, but the food at Hopsmith Tavern was scrumptious.
I love exploring different parts of Chicago and meeting so many wonderful people. The plunge was my last event before I headed back to Drake University for my second semester. The event raised about $30,000! Isn’t that amazing? I have no doubt it will help out the Bundy and Hogg families. Thank you to the participants for braving the cold and jumping into Lake Michigan. I had a lovely time volunteering in the Chicago Chapter office and other ALS/MND events over winter break. I am looking forward to helping out during my spring break!