An honor for Shelly LeGere Bob LeGere, 26, (far right) shown here with his parents John and Shelly after accepting an award on his mother’s behalf from Elmhurst’s Citizen Advocacy Center. The center honored Shelly with the Citizen Initiative Award.

Elmhurst’s Shelly LeGere among ‘Chicagoans of the Year’

By Patti Pagni For The Elmhurst Independent

The “Life Giver.” That’s what Chicago Magazine calls Elmhurst’s Shelly LeGere, as the publication honors her as one of 2018’s Chicagoans of the Year.

This “Life Giver” award comes a little more than three years after LeGere’s 13-year-old daughter Annie lost her life due to anaphylactic shock after exposure to an unknown allergy during a sleepover at a friend’s house in August of 2015. Elmhurst police and LeGere were the first to arrive on the scene, but the police were not armed with epinephrine, which LeGere believes may have made a difference if administered to her daughter. An ambulance rushed Annie to the hospital but shortly after, her heart stopped.  Though doctors resuscitated her, Annie’s brain was without oxygen for too long and she passed away nine days later.

Channeling grief into good

While battling through her grief, LeGere launched the Annie LeGere Foundation, a nonprofit that, through awareness and fundraising, helped arm DuPage County Sheriff’s officers with epinephrine auto-injectors. It came to be after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Annie LeGere Law, which enables police officers to be trained and equipped with Epi auto-injectors. The governor originally signed the law in 2016, not even a year after Annie passed, but due to red tape and liability issues, an amendment was created and signed by Rauner on July 31,2018. This past August, nearly three years to the date of Annie’s passing, the City of Elmhurst approved the Elmhurst’s Police Department’s use of the Epiauto-injectors.

“Believe me, I hope no one ever has to use [the auto-injectors],” LeGere said.

But, she knows that’s not the reality, as food allergies are on the rise.

“When I hear stories that what we’ve done – that the awareness and education… has helped positively affect others and possibly even saved lives, it gives me some peace,” she said.

About the Life Giver award

The Independent asked how she felt about receiving the Life Giver award.

“It’s hard to describe how I feel about it,” said LeGere. “AmI worthy of it? Nothing I do will ever bring Annie back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m honored to receive the award, but let’s face it, I’m here now because I’m a mom – a mom who doesn’t have her daughter anymore. But, I’m a mom who decided to do something.

“So many people have been so awesome and supportive. I like it when people send me texts just to let me know they’re thinking of us or how excited they are when they tell me how the awareness has made a difference. And we wouldn’t have gotten this far without their support. Where would I be without everyone?”

LeGere is enthusiastic about spreading the word and working with U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL 8th District) and Elmhurst physician Dr. Samuel Yunez, who signed the prescription order for the City of Elmhurst, allowing Elmhurst police officers to carry and administer the epinephrine without liability. “Dr. Yunez has been wonderful,” she said. “And, he’s willing to visit municipalities with me and speak about the benefits of Epi. And Congressman Krishnamoorthi has been in contact with me and willing to contact other municipalities and mayors, and that helps to have them on my side.”  

A surgical nurse herself, LeGere says she has “aspirations to spread the word throughout Illinois and then move on from state to state.”

“People out of state have already reached out to me and have heard about the Annie LeGere Law, and they hope their state will pass a law just like it,” she said. “My goal is to use the money [the ALF] has raised to not only spread awareness, but to find families who can’t afford the high costs of Epi auto-injectors and help them.

 

“I also want to talk about bullying and allergies.”

LeGere mentions an extreme story about a Central Michigan University college student with a known peanut allergy who was hazed by other students by smearing peanut butter on his face last year. The student survived,but LeGere was rightfully disturbed.

 “It’s nothing to joke about,” said LeGere. “It’s nothing to make fun of or take lightly.”

Many have taken notice of LeGere’s movement and resolve. In addition to the Chicago Magazine award, Elmhurst’s Citizen Advocacy Center honored her with a Citizen Initiative Award. LeGere’s 26-year-old son, Bob, accepted the award on her behalf recently.

“Bobby tells me how proud he is of me,” LeGere said. “My kids are the greatest things my husband John and I have ever done. I’d be nowhere without them. John and Bobby are at as much of a loss as I am.

“We all just want to love our Annie, and though sometimes I’m on overload, Annie is how I maintain my focus in the fog.”

For more information, visit amazingannie.org.

 

Comments are closed

Sorry, but you cannot leave a comment for this post.