Annette Curtis of Arlington Heights calls herself "an accidental advocate."
Somewhat shy by nature, she typically can be found on the sidelines of her daughter's soccer or water polo games, but now she finds herself fighting for gun control.
And she's not alone. Her friend Audree Hall of Prospect Heights is a mother and former teacher currently working for a publishing firm. But she also has found her voice in fighting for gun reform.
Both are members of a nonpartisan, grass-roots organization called Moms Demand Action that formed in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
An Indiana mother of five started the group, and since the shooting in December, more than 90,000 mothers and 1,000 chapters across the country have organized. Chicago's is the largest.
Locally, members come from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Lake in the Hills, Lake Zurich, Elgin, Schaumburg, Carpentersville, Wheeling, McHenry, Prospect Heights and Des Plaines.
"While watching the news from Newtown, I could not tolerate the thought of one more child being hurt due to gun violence," Curtis said. "I've never done anything like this before, but I had to do something."
Hall said she was so moved by the heroic actions of the Newtown principal and teachers that she cried for days before turning to social media, where she found Moms Demand Action.
"I have never been brave enough to work on a cause, especially one so politically charged," Hall said. "But I am a mom of two and I spent several weeks worried about shootings at their schools, and had to fight the urge to pull them out of school.
The group's agenda is ambitious: Ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds; require background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases; require reporting to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms the sale of large quantities of ammunition; and ban online sales of ammunition. It also hopes to make gun trafficking a federal crime with serious criminal penalties.
Both women joined with other chapters at a rally in Springfield last month, and a "mom mixer" is being held 6-9 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Bella Luna Café, 731 N. Dearborn St. in Chicago.
The mixer is for women to discuss how they can make an impact with policymakers and discuss strategies. They will close the evening with a tribute to all mothers who have lost a child to gun violence with a candlelight walk to a nearby neighborhood landmark.
For more information about the event, visit momsdemandaction.org.