Imerman Angels, CLOZTALK get people talking with those who have been there, those who can help

Brothers Jonny and Jeff Imerman believe clothes can talk. In fact, they have seen it happen.

When Jonny was 26 years old he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and while he had the unconditional support of family and friends, he wished he could talk to someone who had been through the same ordeal.

So, he started Imerman Angels. The charity introduces people with cancer to mentors who have battled the same disease. This free program is offered to anyone, anywhere.

And although today they have helped thousands of people, getting the word out in the beginning proved challenging. So Jonny and his brother Jeff founded CLOZTALK.

This nonprofit uses clothes to market and promote nonprofits across the country, with several in Illinois. Using high quality apparel, the brothers sell the items with the nonprofit's name and logo.

They found wearing a shirt with the Imerman Angels logo sparked conversations and got people interested in their own charity, so they figured it could help others, too.

Brianne Caplan, founder and executive director of Code Your Dreams, with some of the kids she teaches. The shirts they are wearing were provided for free from CLOZTALK. Courtesy of Jeff Imerman

"We learned how to market an entrepreneurial nonprofit while building Imerman Angels. We learned that if people were talking about us, we were growing. We learned that AWARENESS is the number one thing an entrepreneurial nonprofit needs," the brothers said in a joint email.

"Because it brings everything: people who need a service, people who want to volunteer, donors, corporate sponsors, foundations, future board members, future hires, and people who talk about your service and brand all the time.

"All of it is needed and positive! So, CLOZTALK is designed to raise awareness through cooler, comfier, more eco-conscious and wearable logo-clothing for all nonprofits making the world a better place."

Just as important is that the charity offers its services for free. To form a partnership with CLOZTALK, go to and click on "Nonprofit Application."

The brothers say they raise their funds to help others mostly through marathon runners. On Saturday, June 17, the casual runner can also help by taking part in the Imerman Angels Brunch 5K Run/Walk.

A previous Imerman Angels Brunch Run/Walk 5K. This year's event takes place Saturday, June 17, at Montrose Harbor in Chicago. Courtesy of Jeff Imerman

The event takes place at 8:30 a.m. at Chicago's Montrose Harbor. Visit to register. Cost is $60 for ages 13 and older; $30 for ages 6-12.

Packet pickup takes place from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, June 16, at Fleet Feet Lincoln Square, 4762 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60625.

The brothers discuss their nonprofits and how you can get involved.

Q: What is Imerman Angels? Give a brief overview of what the organization does and who you serve. Share your story.

A: Imerman Angels was created after Jonny Imerman was diagnosed with cancer at 26. After two years of chemo and surgeries, Jonny met a group of cancer survivors at the END of his treatments. They all wished they had known someone who had been through it at the BEGINNING of the cancer journey.

Imerman Angels introduces someone with cancer to someone who's already been there: a survivor of the same disease. So no one fights alone. It's free, a nonprofit, and helps people with any cancer, at any stage level, living anywhere on the planet.

Q: How many people per year do you serve?

A: 3,500 to 4,000 families with cancer.

Q: How can people with cancer connect with someone? How can people who want to mentor volunteer?

A: People with cancer can register at or call (866) IMERMAN. People who want to mentor others can do the same.

An Imerman Angels marathon runner in the Chicago Marathon. Imerman Angels receives most of its funding thanks to people who run marathons and raise money. Courtesy of Jeff Imerman

Q: Where do the majority of your funds come from to support your work, and what are they used for?

A: The biggest overall funding source for Imerman Angels is marathon runners. Roughly 260 runners run the Chicago Marathon for IA, roughly 60 run the Detroit Marathon for IA, and roughly 60 run the New York Marathon for IA.

Funds are used to operate our service: team members speaking with families with cancer, and then connecting them to a survivor like them; and training new mentor volunteers.

Q: Tell us about CLOZTALK. How did it start?

A: CLOZTALK produces and sells high-quality, made-on-demand apparel with a nonprofit's name or logo on it, at no cost to the nonprofit.

We do this for over 450 nonprofits across the United States, and we put all of these nonprofit apparel collections on Someone who loves a specific nonprofit can come to our website to buy that nonprofit's gear, or someone can come to our website to find a cause they love and buy that nonprofit's gear.

We believe that "clothes talk" and spark conversations and help raise awareness for great causes in the community.

In 2005, we founded a cancer-support nonprofit, Imerman Angels. We struggled to get the word out. After many failed iterations with cheap material, bright colors, taglines, and sponsors, we found that people wanted high-quality, black-and-white T-shirts with only our logo.

Our bold, minimalist T-shirts sparked conversations. The mission spread. Our support base grew. IA has since been recognized by The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and media stations and news outlets across the country.

We founded CLOZTALK to do for other nonprofits what we did for us at Imerman Angels - at no cost to the nonprofit.

Intonation Music executive director Tonya Howell shows off the T-shirt made for her company by CLOZTALK. Courtesy of Jeff Imerman

Q: What are some of the area nonprofits you partner with?

A: In the United States, we currently serve 450-plus nonprofit partners. In Illinois, we have 200-plus nonprofit partners, including Feeding America, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), StreetWise, TechLit Africa, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois, Keeping Families Covered, Chicago Children's Museum, UCAN, and many others.

Q: How can nonprofits work with you?

A: A nonprofit that is interested in partnership with CLOZTALK can go to and click on "Nonprofit Application." The form takes about 10 minutes to fill out.

We only require that the nonprofit is a 501(c) and based in the United States. And we personally vet each nonprofit applicant. If accepted, the onboarding process takes about one month.

Q: How can readers help either organization?

A: For Imerman Angels, please spread the word to friends about IA to make sure those touched by cancer are able to find us and get help.

For CLOZTALK, people can purchase their favorite nonprofit logo-ed apparel online at and then wear it to spread the word about that great cause.

People can also tell their favorite nonprofit about CLOZTALK so that the nonprofit can apply to be a CLOZTALK partner and have its own online shopping store.

Imerman Angels Brunch 5K Run/Walk

What: A fundraiser for Imerman Angels and CLOZTALK

When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 17

Where: Chicago’s Montrose Harbor

Cost: $60 for ages 13 and older; $30 for ages 6-12

To register:• Packet pickup takes place from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, June 16, at Fleet Feet Lincoln Square, 4762 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 60625

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