Totally for the Tooles
No Frills Fun Run events raise more than 80K for family in need
By Patti Pagni
For The Elmhurst Independent
There may not have been a lot of frills, but there sure were a lot of friends and families who joined the 6th annual No Frills Fun Run that kicked off recently at York St. and the Prairie Path, raising money for the family of Matt Toole, an Elmhurst resident living with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
More than 400 runners and walkers, nearly 100 more than last year, signed up for the event that closed out several months of No Frills Fun Run events that raised more than $80,000 for the Tooles. The run, depending on the participant’s choice, can be either a half marathon or a half-of-a-half marathon. Teams may also be formed to share mileage. Following the run, a post-party was held at HB Jones, where a capacity crowd enjoyed live entertainment, food, drinks, raffles, auction items and more.
Monies raised go directly to Toole, who in 2013, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a rapidly progressing, fatal neurological disease that attacks the neurons responsible for controlling muscle movement, eventually impacting patients’ ability to speak, eat, move, and breathe.
“We have been blessed to have been selected as the recipient of the proceeds of this year’s event,” said Toole. “This really shows what can happen when a community comes together.”
The No Frills Fun Run is the creation of Elmhurst residents Dawn Wheatland and Kristin Morrow whose motto is a Margaret Mead quote that says, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Wheatland says that when she and Morrow present the money raised to the beneficiary families associated with the No Frills Fun Run, they “truly feel like they are making a difference.
“There’s no way Kristin and I could do this ourselves though,” Wheatland said. “It takes so many people. We have a donation committee, a selection committee, a safety committee…”
Once a family is selected, there are other ways the No Frills team raises funds, such as vendor parties, local restaurant fundraisers, bowling night, and more.
“We have so many amazing people involved…they don’t just talk, they’re doers,” said Wheatland. “It’s mind boggling how people want to help.
“And the Tooles are an amazing family. They are unbelievably warm, great people. Not only do they deserve this, they need it.”
Toole no longer can use his arms or legs, but counts being able to talk and eat as blessings. The Tooles’ modest home has been modified to accommodate Matt, who requires a day-to-day caregiver.
Matt’s wife Karen says while insurance companies pay for hospitalization and doctors’ visits, they do not cover the cost of required daily care or any of the cost of home modifications, medical equipment, devices or supplies. Out-of-pocket expenses for an ALS patient can cost about $150,000 a year or more.
Still, with all the family is coping with, Karen said the day was “amazing.”
Her husband Matt says the No Frills Fun Run has been more than an event, rather “an experience.”
“The events leading up to race day were filled with joy and good times,” Toole said. “We cannot express in words how grateful we are…Fighting and living with ALS day to day is no easy task. [The community’s] support makes us stronger and keeps us fighting each day.”
But make no frills about it; Wheatland is the grateful one.
“The Tooles make me feel so humble and make me want to do something fantastic daily for someone,” she said. “Karen and Matt are such a big inspiration. They are easy to do this for.”