Joanie Fisher of Elgin was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease nine years ago. Four years ago, she heard about the Paul Ruby Foundation, which raises money for research related to the neurological disorder that causes tremors and other movement difficulties.
She's been a part of the group ever since and volunteers for its annual fundraiser, Concert for a Cure. This year's event was held Saturday at Tanna Farms in Geneva.
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Through the organization, she also met its namesake Paul Ruby, of Geneva, and found solidarity with him, as he also suffers from Parkinson's.
"It affects me, but I feel strong in my faith," said Fisher, who attended the event with her husband Gary and her friend, Kathy Gabler. "That helps me handle it."
The sixth annual Concert for a Cure was an all-day music event that featured local bands, food, a children's area, vendors, and live and silent auctions. This year, the Knights of Columbus sold roasted corn, and it was all managed with the help of 225 volunteers, up from 170 volunteers last year.
Items up for auction included tickets to a Justin Bieber concert, jewelry and a getaway to Chicago that includes a stay in a luxurious condominium.
"People donated from all over," said Dawn Vogelsberg, the foundation's executive director and a Geneva alderman. "People have just been so generous."
The foundation expected to raise $100,000 Saturday; the proceeds benefit Parkinson's research at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center. It puts on no other fundraisers, but people raise money on its behalf, Vogelsberg said. To date, the group has donated more than $500,000.
Ruby, 49, was diagnosed with the disease in 2006, and his son, Wes, was his inspiration to start the foundation.
Wes sent a letter to then-President George W. Bush after funds for stem cell research were cut. Wes wrote that all he wanted to do was play catch with his father.
Today, Ruby can do a whole lot more than play catch. He continues to stay active by coaching his son's baseball team and continuing to work as the general manager at the Harrington Inn and Spa.
"It's made me kind of stay focused on doing what I can do," Ruby said.