It started with a team of college students, but the Glenview Tag Days crew united people of all ages, says Rick Mitchell, co-chair.
“My mother, when she was at a retirement home, would come out and tag in front of a store with a friend of hers from the home who was blind,” Rick remembers. “She had an oxygen tank because of her health condition. Between the two of them, they would raise a ton of money!”
Tag Days began in 1991 when members of a Northwestern University student organization began collecting funds for the Les Turner ALS Foundation on street corners and in front of local businesses. Since then, Tag Days campaigns at various locations have raised over $2 million to support critical research and provide vital resources for those affected by ALS.
For the past 25 years, Glenview Tag Days have fostered a deep sense of community and unity. From the kick-off spot at the intersection of East Lake Avenue and Waukegan Road, volunteers don their distinctive yellow aprons, symbolizing their dedication to the cause, as they collect donations, engage with the community, and have fun. Marty, a long-time volunteer, can always be recognized by his wacky top hat when he’s out tagging. Having someone lively to break the ice is key.
By sharing information and personal stories, the Tag Days volunteers have spread awareness, fostering a greater understanding of ALS and its impact. The ripple effect of this advocacy extends far beyond monetary contributions, fostering empathy, support, and hope among community members.
Bonny Gaffen, a founding member of the Les Turner ALS Foundation and a driving force behind Tag Days, reflects on the profound impact of this event.
“What amazes me most is when volunteers come back from their shift and talk about having met families,” she says. “I find out that in this little area of the world, how many people in Glenview are affected by this disease. Connections to the disease are relatively direct.”
That link with the community is as valuable as the money that the Tag Day volunteers pull in.
Bonny continues, “A few years back there was a young woman that flagged me down at the intersection to donate $20. We got to talking, and I learned that her father’s partner in Canada was living with ALS. She ended up pulling into a grocery store parking lot so we could continue talking, and wrote me a much larger check when she found out about all the things the Foundation was doing for the community.”
The compassion and empathy shared during Tag Days have forged lasting bonds and highlighted the strength of community support. At its peak, there were 20 or 25 Tag Days drives around Chicago and its suburbs, with each one lasting three or four days.
Although this 25th anniversary will likely be the final bow for the Glenview Tag Days crew, they’ve made a tremendous impact on the ALS community — and you can do the same.
Whether it’s cooking, running, golfing, or just collecting donations to celebrate a birthday, our Fundraise Your Way program is here to support you. You can use any occasion throughout the year to raise money and make a difference for people living with ALS.