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Upcoming Elgin ALS Tag Days to honor local Lions Club member

ElgLions Club member Dan Weiler seated ElgLions Club President Bill Klawitter share moment hallway Holiday Inn ElgTuesday evening before they

Elgin Lions Club member Dan Weiler, seated, and Elgin Lions Club President Bill Klawitter share a moment in the hallway of the Holiday Inn in Elgin on Tuesday evening before they attend the club's monthly meeting.

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Updated: June 11, 2013 6:17AM

ELGIN — When Elgin Lions Club president Bill Klawitter heard that fellow club member Dan Weiler and his family were not going to coordinate Tag Days for the Les Turner ALS Foundation this year, Klawitter decided to step up to bat.

“Once I heard that the foundation needed someone to organize the Elgin donation drive this May, I didn’t hesitate to take this on because I felt it would be an ideal way to make a difference to Dan and the ALS community,” Klawitter said. “It would also be a meaningful tribute to my mother-in-law, Arlene Behnke, who lost her battle against the disease two years ago.”

“This will be my first time running the Elgin Tag Days,” Klawitter added. “I have 18 volunteers. We will have Tag Days volunteers at the Jewel-Osco, 1660 Larkin Ave., on Saturday, May 11, and at Walmart, 1001 N. Randall Road, on Saturday, May 18. I also plan on putting out donation cans in local businesses.”

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or motor neuron disease — causes motor neurons to gradually stop working and die, according to the foundation. The result is loss of nearly all voluntary movement and other muscle functions such as speaking, swallowing and eventually breathing.

The foundation stated that “in the United States, someone is diagnosed with ALS every 90 minutes. Approximately 35,000 people are living with the disease. There is currently no cure, although treatment of the symptoms often improves quality of life.”

Weiler has been an Elgin Lions Club member since 1977. He joined the club one year after he moved to Elgin with his wife, Carol, their son, Michael, and their daughter, Sarah. Weiler is an attorney at Weiler & Lengle in St. Charles, a law firm that he founded in 2004.

Weiler started experiencing weakness in his legs in 2008. He visited many doctors and endured numerous tests, but nobody was able to diagnose the problem. Dr. Teepu Siddique at the Les Turner/Lois Insolia ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine was the one who eventually determined that Weiler has ALS.

Weiler now uses a wheelchair for mobility. He is starting to lose muscle strength in his left hand. He no longer drives a car and needs assistance with tasks such as getting dressed and eating.

But he has maintained full use of his mind and voice. And he is still working at his law firm and strives to continue activities such as attending Lions Club meetings.

Tag Days help to increase awareness of ALS and raise funds to support medical research, patient services and educational activities. Elgin Tag Days is one of nearly 30 community drives in the Chicago area. Last year, Weiler, his wife and his brother raised nearly $900 when they coordinated the fundraiser.

The Les Turner ALS Foundation was founded in 1977. It is Chicago’s leader in research, patient care and ALS education. The foundation serves 90 percent of the ALS population in the Chicago area. It is affiliated with Northwestern Medicine, where it supports two scientific research laboratories and a multi-disciplinary clinical program. Patients and families have access to services such as support group meetings, in-home consultation and respite care grants.

The Elgin Lions Club is one of the oldest Lions clubs in the United States. It was chartered by Lions International in 1922 with 35 members during a banquet in the Wild Rose Inn near St. Charles. It was host to the state convention in 1924 and 1935. The club celebrated its 90th anniversary last year.

Klawitter, an Elgin resident since 1998, once chartered a Lions Club near Portage, Wis. He currently is serving his first term as president of the Elgin Lions Club.

More information on Elgin Tag Days is available from Klawitter at 847-695-2598.

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