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updated: 10/3/2013 10:10 AM

North Barrington family's team tops at ALS walk

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  • Paul Launer of North Barrington joined members of his Iron Horse Brigade team at the Les Turner ALS Foundation's Walk For Life Sept. 22 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The team raised the most money of any of the event's approximately 200 entries.

      Paul Launer of North Barrington joined members of his Iron Horse Brigade team at the Les Turner ALS Foundation's Walk For Life Sept. 22 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The team raised the most money of any of the event's approximately 200 entries.
    Photo courtesy of Bob Lee

  • Kris and Paul Launer of North Barrington on one of the two buses their Iron Horse Brigade team took to the Les Turner ALS Foundation's Walk For Life last month at Soldier Field. The team raised the most money of any of the event's approximately 200 entries.

      Kris and Paul Launer of North Barrington on one of the two buses their Iron Horse Brigade team took to the Les Turner ALS Foundation's Walk For Life last month at Soldier Field. The team raised the most money of any of the event's approximately 200 entries.
    Photo courtesy of Bob Lee

  • Aubrey Launer with her parents Paul and Kris of North Barrington at the Les Turner ALS Foundation's Walk For Life Sept. 22 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

      Aubrey Launer with her parents Paul and Kris of North Barrington at the Les Turner ALS Foundation's Walk For Life Sept. 22 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
    Photo courtesy of Bob Lee

 
 

With only about four weeks' preparation, North Barrington resident Paul Launer's Iron Horse Brigade was the largest team and most successful fundraiser among approximately 200 entries at last month's Les Turner ALS Foundation Walk For Life at Soldier Field.

In fact, the team was the second most successful ever when it came to raising funds since the annual event began in 2002, Paul's wife Kris said.

The Iron Horse Brigade boasted 175 members and brought in $77,000 for the Les Turner Foundation.

Paul Launer was diagnosed with ALS in June 2011 and his Barrington-area community has been rallying around him and his family ever since.

But Kris Launer attributes much of the success of the team to friends Sue Randall, who organized it very, very quickly, and Vince and Pat Foglia, who contributed $40,000 to the $37,000 other members of the team were able to raise.

The Launers themselves have been active members of community fundraisers in the past, but are getting a different perspective these days on how important such help can be.

"When you've never been on the receiving end of that much love and support, it means so much," Kris said. "Paul was thrilled."

Though Paul's gradual loss of abilities has been challenging, smaller fundraisers and the ability to teach about ALS at North Barrington School, where daughters Aubrey and Sarah attend, have been rewarding, Kris said. Some kids have offered money they've made from lemonade stands to the Launers' Walk For Life team.

"I cry when I think about it," Kris said.

But the standard of grace and dignity family and friends have shown throughout the past two years has been set by Paul himself, who hopes to see the cause of ALS identified during his lifetime, Kris said.

"I don't know how Paul does it," Kris marveled of her husband. "I've never once heard him complain or ask 'Why me?'"

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