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2013 Volunteer Awardees

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Chairman's Award: The Silverman Family

This is the highest award presented by the Chapter in recognition of distinguished service and outstanding support. The recipient is selected by the chapter’s chairman of the board.

The Silverman Family has generously supported the mission of the Society through their involvement with the Greater Illinois Chapter since 2005.  Through their commitment with the annual fundraising event, Cohn Weil Memorial MS Outing, the family has donated nearly $90,000 since that time.  Jeff Silverman (Dad) serves on the Cohn Weil committee as co-chair of the Major Sponsors area.  Inspired by the work Jeff has accomplished, Bill Burnett (Son-in-law) joined the committee and was recently inducted.  Daughters Michele Burnett and Abby Silverman follow in their parents’ footsteps as far as philanthropy is concerned.  Michele, who is the Director for Catering & Events at Dineamic Group Hospitality Development, secured a generous in-kind donation of wine and spirits for the Cohn Weil event and is currently working on securing sponsorships for all chapter events.  Abby, who works for the Chicago Cubs’ Community Affairs department, facilitates the in-kind donation of Cubs game tickets that are used as recognition items for donors, volunteers and clients.  We are grateful for the family’s continued dedication to volunteer their time and contribute funds to support MS research and programs for individuals and families affected by MS in Illinois.  

Do It Yourself Fundraising Volunteer: The Habing Family

Recognizing volunteers who create & coordinate community events to raise awareness & funds for MS

Phil Habing and his family are all runners, so when his youngest sister was diagnosed with MS in May of 2012 it was only natural that they would use this skill as a tool to fundraise for a cure. The result was Run in a Dress for MS, a hilariously-themed 5K held in Phil’s hometown of Teutopolis, IL.

The Habing family first became acquainted with the National MS Society – Greater IL Chapter through a cousin who has participated in Bike MS for a number of years. When Phil’s sister was diagnosed, they reached out to the Society’s website to find as much information as possible about the disease. Initially, Phil planned to fundraise by running a half marathon in a dress, but his sisters suggested that they organize a 5K instead, knowing that their tight-knit hometown community would love to support them in their cause. With 375 participants, 41 sponsorships, and numerous other donations later, the event managed to raise close to $22,000.

Phil and the Habing family are planning on making the Run in a Dress for MS an annual event, and next year’s race is already set for May 10th. Phil hopes to expand the event with live music and other features, and maybe eventually to multiple locations. But in the end, he recognizes that the generous support and gratitude of his community is what makes the event so special. 

Excellence in Individual Fundraising – Bike MS: Thomas Selcke

Recognizing excellence in individual fundraising & leadership as part of Bike MS: Tour de Farms

Thirteen years ago, Thomas “Tom” Selcke first rode the Bike MS: Tour de Farms event on his own while he was still working at Northern Trust Company and raised $4,900 along with the company’s matching gifts program.  He is now retired and is still full of energy to help those who ask for assistance from him in the community.  When Tom learns of a friend or neighbor who is affected by a situation, he willingly accepts the challenge and raises money for organizations such as cancer awareness or those that benefit people with disabilities.  When his best friend’s daughter was diagnosed with MS, he knew what to do.  He participated in the Bike MS event again five years ago and continues to raise funds each year but this year was the largest amount he raised on his own for $11,000.  Tom said he likes doing things the old- fashioned way and that he has the gift of gab.  His style of fundraising includes making lots of phone calls and visiting donors in person.  He feels that people see him doing things from the heart so they trust his efforts and willingly donate to him.  Tom also said that he doesn’t do his volunteer work to get an award; he just does it because he has seen how the money raised impacts those living with MS.

Excellence in Team Fundraising – Bike MS: Petal Pushers-Team Cool Wave

Recognizing excellence in team fundraising & leadership as part of Bike MS: Tour de Farms

 

Matt Kramer has only been involved with the National MS Society for two years, but already he is making waves in Bike MS: Tour de Farms. His team, the Petal Pushers, was founded in 2012 in support of a coworker living with multiple sclerosis. With only 25 members in their first year, the team expanded to 66 in 2013 (with a goal of 100 for 2014) and raised $53,091 in the process. 

Matt dedicates an incredible amount of time to make the Petal Pushers as fun and engaging as possible. He started recruiting in January and set their team fundraising goal at $25,000, but this had to be continuously raised with the number of donations they received.  Every two weeks, Matt would spend several hours creating a team newsletter with interesting news regarding biking, MS, or anything else that he thought would keep team members excited about fundraising. At the event itself, he continues to be as accommodating as possible, supplying his tent with an abundance of snacks and drinks and even going so far as to bring a handicapped accessible port-a-potty for the team’s campsite.

For Matt, the weekend of Bike MS is a time to set aside any personal desires and ensure that his team has the greatest experience possible. He wants them to reach the goals they set for themselves in both biking and fundraising, and he will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. This includes riding back out onto the course after he finishes to bring snacks, water, and encouragement to his teammates. He sees Bike MS as a holistic experience where the goal is to eliminate MS, and where new friendships are formed, healthier lifestyles are promoted, and fun is had all around. 

Excellence in Individual Fundraising – Walk MS: Shannon Reeves

Recognizing excellence in individual fundraising and leadership as part of Walk MS

Shannon Reeves was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009. She became acquainted with the National MS Society shortly thereafter by joining the junior board, Multiple Solutions, as well as forming a team (The Shananana’s) for that year’s Walk MS. Now, as the Multiple Solutions’ chairperson for MS Soirée, a member of a Walk MS committee, and team captain of the ever-growing Shananana’s, Shannon is heavily involved with the Society.

Consistently raising large amounts for Walk, Shannon received $6,556 in donations this year. Along with this, her team managed to raise $22,060, putting both the team and Shannon herself in the upper tier of Chicago Lakefront fundraisers. The thing that sticks out most about her fundraising, however, is its simplicity. The Shananana’s have no big fundraising events – instead, Shannon sends out emails asking for donations to family, friends, and colleagues, and they pass along the message to other acquaintances. The support of people is overwhelming, and flows easily enough for the team to consistently raise so much money.

After her diagnosis, Shannon’s main goal was to educate herself about multiple sclerosis and find opportunities to help others who are living with the disease. She finds that Walk MS is something that’s helpful, convenient, and fun for everyone with its short distance and easygoing and exciting nature. With her involvement in Multiple Solutions and Walk, Shannon is always doing her part in creating a world free of MS.  

Excellence in Team Fundraising – Walk MS: Team Union Leasing

Recognizing excellence in team fundraising and leadership as part of Walk MS

Kathie Jarzombek first participated in Walk MS in 2010 in support of a coworker, Jo, who has multiple sclerosis. After taking a year off of the event, Kathie herself was diagnosed with MS in 2011, and she decided to reform her company’s team for the next Walk. Kathie, Jo, and a member of their company’s marketing department have since co-captained Team Union for two Walks, and their positive attitudes and enjoyable fundraising approach have helped the team to keep their fundraising goals high.

Comprised of nearly 50 friends, co-workers, and family members of Kathie and Jo, Team Union has more than doubled in size since its formation. In 2013 they raised nearly $25,000 for Walk MS – McHenry County. Much of this money came from several large fundraisers put on by the team captains. Kathie played a large part in organizing a silent auction at Bannermans Sports Grill in Bartlett. She took it upon herself to cold call different groups in the Chicago area asking for donations and many of them, including the Blackhawks, Harley-Davidson, and radio station US 99.5FM, willingly gave her gifts to be auctioned off.

Kathie is an important part of the MS community because of her positive energy and unstoppable effort in fundraising. She helps to make MS Awareness Month an important event in her office, turning it into a fundraiser that allows people to wear jeans with a minimum $25 donation. For Kathie, the best part of Walk MS is the incredible atmosphere of support and generosity created by everyone who participates.

June Golin Service Award: Dr. Dennis J. Garwacki, M.D.

Recognizing outstanding achievement in the development and delivery of services to people living with MS

Dr. Garwacki, Medical Director of the Illinois Neurological Institute MS Center, attended medical school at Northwestern University Medical School.  Currently Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine in Peoria, Illinois, he treats suburban and rural patients. 

Dr. Garwacki has over 35 years of experience treating patients living with MS in Central Illinois.  He is a well- known community neurologist and has the presence and persona of a beloved country doctor; he is accessible, knows his patients by name, and participates in community events such as the Walk MS and other fundraising events so that he is a visible support to the MS community.  He also serves on the chapter’s Clinical Advisory Committee.  The creation of the Illinois Neurological Institute was a result of the collaboration between Dr. Garwacki and the OSF St. Francis medical system.   Illinois Neurological Institute was established in 2007 by OSF St. Francis and is a fully integrated Center for MS care in central Illinois.  Multiple clinical trials are currently under his direction.  Dr. Garwacki also initiated the notion of hosting a regional research symposium in Peoria so that rural constituents would not have to drive the distance to attend a program in the Chicago area.  The Regional Research Symposium will be celebrating its seventh year in 2013, sponsored by the Greater Illinois Chapter.

Legislator of Year Award

Recognizing the work of state officials who make life better for people living with MS

State Senator Matt Murphy

Senator Matt Murphy (R-27th District) serves the 27th District, which includes the communities of Arlington Heights, Barrington, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Mt. Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, and Rolling Meadows. Senator Murphy was elected to the Illinois Senate in November 2006 and has served as the Senate Republican Deputy Leader since January 2013. In the Senate, he serves as the Minority Spokesperson of the Executive and Appropriations I Committees, and sits on the Appropriations II, Energy, and Revenue Committees. He has also served as the co-chairman of the Senate’s Deficit Reduction Committee and served on the Illinois Senate Special Committee on Impeachment Procedures.

Senator Murphy has been a strong supporter of multiple sclerosis issues in his time in the Senate. Recently, he has led some of the Society’s key initiatives in Illinois. In 2012, he sponsored the Gas Station Accessibility bill, which sought to improve access to gas pumps. This year, Senator Murphy was one of the first Senate Republicans to sponsor the MS Task Force bill. His sponsorship helped pave the way for a unanimous, bipartisan approval of the bill on the Senate Floor.

A native of Mount Prospect, he attended St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights. He is an alumnus of the University of Iowa, and graduated from John Marshall Law School in 1996 with a Juris Doctor. Currently, Sen. Murphy is a practicing attorney with Brian J. McManus & Assoc. in Chicago.  He and his wife, Julie, reside with their four children, Erin, Molly, Kevin, and Colleen in Palatine. 

State Representative Ann Williams

Representative Ann M. Williams (D-11th District) serves the 11th District on Chicago's North Side. Representative Williams received a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Iowa and a J.D. from Drake University Law School.

Representative Williams serves on the Insurance and Biotechnology Committees, as well as the Judiciary Committee, where she serves as the Vice-Chair. Before being elected as State Representative, she was an Assistant Attorney General in Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, serving as her Legislative Director. Prior to serving as an Assistant Attorney General, Representative Williams was a staff attorney for the Illinois House of Representatives.

A former member of the Greater Illinois Chapter’s Multiple Solutions Junior Board, Representative Williams has sponsored and advanced a number of significant bills to improve the lives of individuals living with multiple sclerosis. This year, she was the primary sponsor of the MS Task Force legislation. Testifying in the House Human Services Committee on the bill, she spoke of the impact this bill could have by creating a partnership between the State, the Greater Illinois Chapter, medical professionals, and individuals living with MS. Representative Williams’ efforts led to the unanimous passage of the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives. 

She currently serves on the board of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and was formerly on the board of Personal PAC. Representative Williams lives in Chicago's West Lakeview neighborhood.

Public Education Award

Recognizing print and broadcast media outlets and personalities who best inform the public about MS  

Tom Negovan (WGN-TV)

Emmy-winning journalist Tom Negovan joined WGN News in June 2005 as co-anchor of WGN News at Noon.  Tom arrived in Chicago from Philadelphia, where he served as weekend anchor and investigative reporter at CBS-owned KYW-TV. While there, Tom anchored anniversary coverage of the 9/11 attacks from Ground Zero, reported around-the-clock on the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and covered the war in Iraq live from Baghdad.  From 1989 to 2002, Tom served as anchor and reporter at various television stations across Canada, including stops in Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Tom graduated cum laude from the University of North Dakota with a degree in Communications. While still in college, he served as operations manager and morning anchor at KFJM Radio and as a photographer and general assignment reporter at CBS affiliate KXJB-TV.

Thrilled to be living in his favorite city and working at a station he watched as a kid, Tom takes pride in working with the next generation of communicators; serving as a scholarship judge for the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and on the Board of Directors of Street-Level Youth Media.  In 2007, Tom completed his second Chicago Marathon, was named one of Chicago’s Most Eligible Bachelors, and was quickly debachelorized by Sun-Times columnist Susanna Homan. They were married in 2008.

In 2009, Tom spent two weeks in Afghanistan embedded with members of the Illinois National Guard for his series “Assignment Afghanistan.”

Susanna Negovan (Splash/Chicago Sun-Times)

Susanna Negovan is the publisher and editor of Splash, a Chicago Sun-Times publication.   She develops and oversees new media projects for Wrapports LLC, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times.  Susanna is the second high-profile editor to rejoin the Sun-Times under its new ownership.   A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Susanna also was vice president and director of corporate communications at Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt advertising, and a frequent contributor to the former WCKG. She is married to Tom Negovan, a reporter and fill-in news anchor at WGN-TV.

Rookie Fundraiser of the Year: Bethany Masch

Recognizes excellence in individual or team fundraising and leadership during the first year of participation 

Bethany Masch first became familiar with MS through her work as a rehabilitation nurse. Having enjoyed her work with MS patients, she moved to the Chicago area three years ago and is now a fully certified multiple sclerosis nurse at the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation. She has been involved with the National MS Society both as a volunteer at Women on the Move and as a Walk MS Team Captain the past two years.

Bethany is the co-captain for the Northwestern University team along with one of her patients. The team, consisting of friends, family members, patients, and many other community members, has never stopped growing since its creation, and she ended up giving away all of the 70 t-shirts she had for team members this year. Bethany also gave constant fundraising reminders to her teammates through email and Facebook to keep them on track for their goals.  Through a profit share at a local restaurant and a number of large individual donations, the team raised more than $14,000 for Walk MS 2013, Chicago Lakefront site. As an MS caregiver, Bethany has learned much about the disease in the last few years. She loves Walk MS because of the feeling of togetherness that it creates. The positive energy present at the event often translates to a positive outlook for those with the disease. Most of all, Bethany thrives on the hope that Walk creates.

Support Group Facilitator of the Year: David and Jeanne Oost

Recognizing volunteers who have made significant contributions to providing outstanding leadership and support for people living with MS and the Chapter

David Oost has been living with MS for 18 years. Recently he has participated in the 2012 MS Action Day, served as a member of the Bloomington Walk MS committee, and he has been involved with the research programs of Dr. Robert Motl at the University of Illinois. David currently serves as a facilitator of the Bloomington/Normal MS Support Group along with his wife Jeannie.

When David was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis he began to attend support group sessions, but found that they did not serve the function he had hoped for. Three years ago, he and his wife ended up volunteering as co-facilitators of the local support group and transforming it to meet the growing needs of the members. The group meets once a month, ten months a year. For each meeting David and Jeannie try to find a speaker that can give helpful advice for everyday life. For example, a firefighter once gave a presentation on fire safety for those with limited mobility.

In the month of December, the Bloomington/Normal group forgoes their normal meeting and instead has a get-together at a local restaurant, with the intention of encouraging people to get out and about town during the cold winter months. David and Jeannie ask for donations from local businesses and make sure that everyone who attends leaves with a prize. With everything that they do for others affected by MS, David and Jeannie’s goal is to impart the “MS street smarts” that will empower them to continue living in a relatively normal fashion. 

Volunteer of the Year: Laine Sell

Recognizing individuals for outstanding contributions in a volunteer role for the Chapter and in promoting the Chapter’s volunteer opportunities

For more than 30 years, Laine Sell of Warrenville, IL has dedicated her life to volunteerism for the Greater Illinois Chapter to assist in the delivery of programs and coordination at events.  Laine’s dependable and unflappable presence communicates the mission at every venue where she has become a familiar face.  Laine does not have a connection to MS but she believes in the good work that the Society does and she enjoys being part of it.  Laine Sell started volunteering for the youth camp from 1974 to 1990.  During those years, she donated all of the arts and crafts materials for the projects which brought much joy to the participants.  She became known as the “lady whose fingernail polish matched her outfits.”  Afterwards, she continued to volunteer as a co-instructor for the MS Aquatics program from 1990-2005.  Since 1993, Laine also has been a steadfast volunteer at either the registration table or information booth and travels across Chicagoland and downstate to many of our chapter programs and events such as the Peoria Chiefs, Kane County Cougars, Research Symposium, MS Family Day, Walk MS and Bike MS.  She’s usually the first one to arrive and the last one to leave.  Laine also participated as an MS Activist during the 2007 MS Action Day in Springfield to visit legislators and advocate for issues that affect people living with MS.  Whether the volunteer role was in registration, hands on help with clients, or instructing, Laine has been the go-to person over a long stretch of time.  We want to honor Laine for her true commitment to the mission.   

Lifetime Achievement Award: Yolanda Treiguts

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a national award presented to volunteers with 35 or more years of service who have steadfastly given themselves in the movement toward a world free of multiple sclerosis. 

The Greater Illinois Chapter is fortunate to have many dedicated volunteers, but we are so proud to have Yolanda Treiguts as a multi-talented and most of all, compassionate volunteer. Yolanda’s lifelong volunteer career and commitment started in 1978, shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She dedicated most of her extensive time and efforts to facilitating one of the largest support groups, the South Cook MS Self-Help group. In addition, she is a tireless leader of a Walk MS team and for year 2013, her team has raised $55,553.72 (and counting), being the number one team in Illinois to date. Yolanda also serves on the Board of Trustees and is currently the Chair of the Volunteer Development Committee.  She has also served on many steering committees both locally and nationally to further the mission. Yolanda has received multiple awards and accolades from the National MS Society and the Chicago community for her involvement in improving the lives of people with disabilities through advocacy, programs support, fundraising and education. Of all those awards, it is apparent that what keeps Yolanda motivated year after year is truly how she impacts the lives of people living with MS and their families.  

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