When Deb Daly taught Natalie Judkins how to organize a successful fundraiser she could never have imagined the Larkin High School graduate would later use those skills to collect more than $10,000 for her former teacher.
Daly suffered five strokes between September and January, most recently on New Year's Day. She is recovering now at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, according to her son, Ryan. Knowing Daly's medical bills were mounting, Judkins organized a group to raise money for the Larkin High School health teacher and Provena St. Joseph Hospital nurse.
"She really has taught me so much," Judkins said. "It was something I thought I could give back to her after she has given me so much."
Judkins is a freshman at Elgin Community College planning to go into medicine, thanks to the health occupations classes she took at Larkin.
The main fundraiser for Daly happened Feb. 11 at Moretti's Ristorante in Bartlett, complete with raffles, a silent auction and a live band. Moretti's donated the space, pizza and their staff. A local band played for free. Businesses donated items for the raffle and silent auction. And the community showed up.
Based on that event and donations collected before and after it, organizers have raised more than $10,000 -- and counting. Judkins said she keeps funneling extra donations to the Daly family and noted people can continue to drop off money at Larkin High School if they wish.
Ryan Daly said it is going to be very likely his mom needs long-term care, much of which may not be covered by insurance.
"Everything they've done is wonderful and everything will only help," Daly said.
The fundraising total was announced at the Feb. 19 Larkin faculty/student basketball game -- Judkins' first fundraiser. She organized the inaugural event with the support of Daly who served as an adviser to the Health Occupations Students of America Club. To go to the state conference, students had to raise $200 apiece. Judkins said it was Daly who pushed her to talk to the principal and organize the fundraiser, which has continued even after Judkins graduated and Daly's health forced her to go on disability.
Judkins said Daly's kind and caring personality has made her many friends.
"I think that's why so many people want to give back," Judkins said. "Because she's given so much to everyone. She deserves a turn."