Wendy Rauwerdink



Buy one of these WENDALL HOPE Hats to Help Find a Cure for ALS (otherwise known as Lou Gehrigs Disease).  Net proceeds will be donated to the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research.  Their motto is The Hope is in the Science.





MARCH 5, 2016

"My name is Wendy. In February of 2011 I watched the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl. I was jumping around and yelling and cheering for my favorite team. One year later I was in a wheelchair.

This is my story: I was very healthy (or so I thought). I walked with my two labs for an hour almost every day. In the winter I would snowshoe with them instead. My husband and I watched our weight and ate salmon and spinach salads at least once a week and hardly any red meat (except for an occasional Wisconsin Johnsonville bratwurst!), but ALS doesn't care about that.

I first noticed that something might be wrong just a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl while I was snowshoeing. My right foot rolled to the side a few times but I thought that the boot was defective, not me. A couple of weeks after that we went skiing in the UP just like we did every year. I had trouble pushing down on my right boot and my husband had to help but once the boot was on it gave my leg so much support that I was able to ski all day. I didn't know it then but that was to be the last time I would ever ski again. I can still feel myself skiing down the main run at Indianhead, Michigan without a care in the world and looking forward to a hot chocolate with Baily's Irish Cream and whipped cream on top. In May my ankle rolled really badly and I thought it was a just a sprain but after I fell a few times I went to see a doctor. I went to four different doctors until I received the diagnosis that I had - ALS. Obviously the first question that you ask is "what are the treatments" and their answer is - there are no treatments, or drugs, or surgeries. There is nothing.

My husband and I tried to fight, but there was nothing to fight with. We tried to live as normal a life as possible. I had to give up my favorite volunteer job at Saint Vincent de Paul where I worked about fifteen hours a week sorting the donated books and getting them out on the shelves. I also had to give up driving for Meals on Wheels which I did for twenty three years. I also volunteered at a nursing home where I transported the residents from their room to the beauty salon which was on the property. I transported them in wheelchairs. I never dreamed at the age of fifty seven that I would also be in a wheelchair.

We traveled to Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland, Turkey, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean on a cruise, and to Disneyworld in Florida. We went to Northwestern Hospital in Chicago every three months to see an ALS specialist but gave up when he just asked how I was feeling every visit and nothing else. Then we went to The University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin every three months again, but it was the same thing. My husband and I both graduated from the University of Madison so we kept going there until it was getting too difficult to drive there. That means that I have not seen an ALS specialist in over two years. It just gets too hard to hear over and over again that there is nothing they can do while you steadily get worse. Life was still good as far as I was concerned, while I could still talk, use my hands (which meant I could still continue working at the family travel agency where I helped in the accounting department) and go out with friends and family.

But when things started to go after my legs, they went really fast. By February of 2014 my hands were becoming useless and I had to quit my job and going to garden club meetings. By the end of April I became bedridden and have been here ever since. I can't move any part of my body except my eyes but recently my vision has started to blur. I can't breathe (I have a tracheostomy) I can't smell, eat, drink, or talk. I have a machine that I type in words and it speaks for me. I am blessed because I have a wonderful family and friends."

This was written by Wendy while her best friends were with her creating a fundraising calendar "GIRLS OF '72".

Unfortunately, with no cure in site, ALS won the hard fought battle of Wendy, with her family, friends, and pets, by her side.  Loving, caring, and always supporting through a sea of uncertainty.

We, alongside her son Tom, created this donation based hat line to help raise awareness.  At his company, 80AD, he used his fine art and graphic design skills to create the turtle art.  Art that will represent his mother...our sister...your friend.  The turtle spirit animal is highly symbolic.  The turtle is a symbol of longevity, endurance, persistence, and the continuation of life (sometimes against incredible odds).