About 150 volunteers of all ages are suiting up in bright yellow aprons in Barrington today and tomorrow, collecting money to fund research and programs that support people with ALS – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a 2-day initiative, called Tag Days, honoring ALS Awareness Month in May. They hope to raise over $16,000 during this year’s Barrington collection. You’ll see this yellow army of volunteers out and about, stationed at storefronts and street corners all over town, this Friday, May 3rd, and Saturday, May 4th. But Tag Days has a new twist this year…
For the firs time ever, the volunteers have named an honorary chair of Barrington’s Tag Days drive. He’s a North Barrington man with two young daughters and his name is Paul Launer.
For the past two years, Paul has been living with ALS, a fatal neuromuscular disorder that causes impaired speaking, swallowing and breathing, muscle deterioration and paralysis.
His supporters call him a great inspiration for the attitude with which he has chosen to face this disease. ALS has taken a significant physical toll on Paul, a financial services VP who coached his daughters’ soccer teams and served as their Indian Princesses Chief prior to his diagnosis in June of 2011.
I gave the Launers a call earlier this week for their take on the significance of Tag Days in Barrington. And Paul’s wife, Kris, snapped the picture into new perspective with these words so personally connecting the cause to our community:
“Tag Days are important to our family because it raises awareness of ALS. Most of our friends had no idea of what ALS was until Paul was diagnosed. Anything that raises money for more research and treatment is fabulous. It is Paul’s fondest wish that a cure be found before he dies. He knows it is too late for him but he would like to know that others will not have to deal with this illness.”
“Paul has never complained nor asked the “Why me” question. He retains his good spirits and optimism. We have had a outpouring of help and support from our friends, family and community and that makes this whole situation a lot easier to deal with.”
“Paul was very honored to be an honorary chair of Tag Days as he wants to put a face and a name with an illness many people aren’t even aware of. Anytime you can make something personal to your community it helps to raise awareness. Paul has participated in many events trying to promote awareness and push for more research. The last drug that was created to treat ALS was over 15 years ago!!”
Paul is one of seven people in zip code 60010 being cared for by the ALS Les Turner Foundation, the organization that will receive the funds raised this weekend.
Tag Days organizer, Bob Lee, calls Paul an inspiration for not letting ALS alter his outlook on life.
“Paul is a representation of what this disease can do in taking away all your voluntary muscles and it’s a tough, tough journey for any family, especially with children.
When he was diagnosed, he made the choice not to live with bitterness and regret, but to enjoy his wonderful life and family and make the most of it. And I think Paul Launer represents the attitude we all should have in life of making the best of each moment. Paul lives it and his wife Kris does, too. He is an amazing man.”
By the way, the Tag Days drive got its name because the of the term “Tag’s” reference to baseball, Lou Gehrig and the act of touching others. All of the baseball players at Barrington High School will also be collecting to help the cause.
To follow Barrington’s Tag Days Crew, CLICK HERE, to find their page on Facebook. To learn more about the care and support provided by the ALS Les Turner foundation in our community and beyond, visit LesTurnerALS.org.