Phil Berger was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 34 years ago, and he quickly became involved with the National MS Society, Greater Illinois Chapter. After more than 30 years as a volunteer at Chapter events, a facilitator of the Park Ridge support group, and as an avid and prolific fundraiser, Phil has become very well known among Society staff and clients. However, Phil has not been alone in his endeavors – his family is always right there with him. While they fundraise for and participate in a variety of events throughout the year, they have made an annual family event out of volunteering at Bike MS: Tour de Farms.
“Bike MS is my favorite event,” says Phil’s daughter, Janice Davis. “We meet new people, we run into people we met in previous years, and we get to hang with staff members. It’s a physically exhausting yet emotionally rewarding weekend for all of us, and we look forward to it each and every year!”
Janice is not alone in her love of Bike MS. Her husband, Barry, has volunteered with her for more than ten years. Her sister Jodee Burkart, along with husband Jerry and daughter Jaimee, also claim it as their favorite event, eagerly anticipating that exciting June weekend. More relatives and even non-family members get involved – Sue Welch, a long-time friend of Janice, has been volunteering with her for nearly 15 years. While Janice’s family and friends can list many reasons that they enjoy their volunteer work, Jaimee sums up their primary driving force very aptly.
“I continue to volunteer because I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces, and having them remember you year after year is something special,” says Jaimee. “But really, I would do anything to help out with a great cause that directly affects one of the most important people in my life – my grandpa.”
True to their service-oriented mindsets, Phil’s family and friends have volunteered with many other organizations, including the Leukemia Research Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and local Parent Teacher Associations. If you want to meet any of these dedicated volunteers, you can catch them at the upcoming Walk MS 2014 in Glenview and, of course, at Bike MS 2014 in DeKalb.