By: Beth R
On May 18, volunteers wearing yellow aprons and holding collection canisters will be stationed near stores and at major intersections throughout Elmhurst as part of the Les Turner ALS Foundation’s Tag Days drives. Bensenville resident Ninfa Queyquep is spearheading this effort in memory of her husband Eric who passed away from ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in December of 2012. 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 Elmhurst Tag Days drive is one of nearly 30 community drives in the Chicagoland area.
This is the first year Ninfa has organized a Tag Days drive, and she is recruiting friends and relatives to raise money for the fight against ALS. Volunteers typically commit to a two-hour shift and are stationed at highly-visible locations, such as Jewel, and at busy intersections, including York and Second Streets.
In July of 2009, Eric, 46, underwent back surgery for a bulging disc because one of his legs was weak; however, his recovery was progressing slowly, his other leg was also weakening and he started experiencing twitching in his arms, leaving the surgeon concerned that something else might be amiss. The physician referred Eric to a neurologist who ran a series of tests and diagnosed him with ALS. The Queyqueps sought a second opinion from Scott Heller, MD, at the Les Turner/Lois Insolia ALS Center at Northwestern where the diagnosis was confirmed. Over the next three years, Eric’s health declined, leaving him unable to use his arms and legs, reliant on a feeding tube for nutrition, and unable to speak. Despite his condition, Eric maintained a positive attitude and always tried to muster up the strength to participate in his children’s activities and social events at home.
“We are very blessed to have a strong support system of friends and family who were there for us at every step during the course of Eric’s disease,” said Ninfa. “We were appreciative of their attention, and also the healthcare professionals because this is a difficult disease to face without support and guidance. Eric was an inspiration to all of us as he engaged in life as best he could, even during his final days.”
Read the rest of the article and more about Tag Days here.