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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chicagoans honored at National Multiple Sclerosis Society award ceremony

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National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter

Illinois senate president and house leader among honorees at annual Volunteer Recognition Awards

Chicago, Nov 4th, 2014 — The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter held its annual Volunteer Recognition Awards ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. Among those presented with awards at the event were Edward Coury; Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton; Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin; MS Society, Greater Illinois Chapter Board of Trustees Chair Sean Gallagher; and Johnny Perona.

Coury was presented with the Individual Fundraising Award after impressively raising $10,000 in his first year as a Bike MS participant. As a member of Team Go Johnny Go, he raised money in support of the team’s captain, Bob Koys, who is living with multiple sclerosis.

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Illinois Senate President Cullerton
Illinois Senate President Cullerton was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1992 as a representative of Illinois’s 6th Legislative District. Today, he serves as the president of the Illinois Senate. He is a continuous sponsor of MS Society legislation, including the requirement for insurers to provide preventative physical therapy to Illinois residents who are living with MS, which has proved to be a groundbreaking accomplishment for the chapter and its constituents.

Additionally, Cullerton supported The MS Project, an annual Illinois Lottery $2 instant-win ticket that has raised $6 million for MS research since its start in 2007. He also sponsored the Gas Station Accessibility Law, which provides access to people living with disabilities to request refueling assistance — the law was signed in 2012 and went into effect in January of 2014.

In 2014, Cullerton was imperative to the passage of Senate Bill 1640 by both Republican and Democratic chambers. The Bill established an MS Task Force consisting of 16 members appointed by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The MS Task Force is charged with seeking solutions to address the needs of people living with MS and is only the second to be established in the country.

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Illinois House Leader Durkin
Illinois House Leader Durkin, who is a longtime proponent of issues important to people living with MS, was given the Legislator of the Year Award for a representative. He is a member of the Misericordia Board of Advisors, a community health center offering care to people with disabilities. He also sits on the Giant Steps of Illinois Board of Directors, an organization focused on serving the needs of people diagnosed with autism, as well as the JDRF Board of Directors, an organization focused on the impacts of type 1 diabetes.

Cullerton is a fierce ally of people living with MS, and he was awarded the Senate Legislator of the Year Award for his dedication.

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Sean Gallagher
Sean Gallagher was presented with the Norman Cohn Hope Award, the MS Society’s highest volunteer award, which is given to an individual who epitomizes Norman Cohn’s vision for voluntary civic action and hope for the future.

He served as chair of the Greater Illinois Chapter’s board of trustees for three years before stepping down last month, and he has been a board member for the past decade.As chair, Gallagher was instrumental in leading the chapter through a transition period when he first took over, steadying the chapter's financial situation and ultimately leading it to a period of sustained financial growth. The chapter achieved record-breaking fundraising success, resulting in 27 percent growth from 2013 to 2014, the highest increase in the nation.

He was also instrumental in leading the chapter’s increase in gross revenue to $1.7 million over the past four years through fundraising events — including Walk MS, Bike MS, Dinner of Champions and Women on the Move — in addition to increased Illinois Lottery funding.

Gallagher is a long-time supporter of Bike MS, first as a rider in 2006 and then a year later as a team captain. Over the past eight years, his bike team has raised over $175,000, and he has personally secured more than $83,000 in donations. A devoted family man, Gallagher involves his wife and two children in fundraising events such as Walk MS, MS Slugfest and MuckFest MS. Together, Gallagher and his wife have personally donated nearly $75,000, helping bring us ever closer to a world free of MS.

After being diagnosed with MS, Perona’s life took a dramatic turn. As a talented musician who has played in many bands over the past 20 years, he worried how his MS diagnosis might affect his music career.

On Nov. 23, 2013, Perona held a concert fundraiser at the former Cubby Bear Bar and Grill in Lincolnshire, Illinois. He sold 450 tickets for the event and raised over $10,000, earning him the Do It Yourself Fundraising Volunteer Award.

Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease that interrupts the flow of information in the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. The Greater Illinois Chapter mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of more than 20,000 individuals in Illinois and 2.3 million worldwide affected by MS.

For more information, visit MSillinois.org or call 1-800-344-4867.

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