April 2012 Volunteers of the Month
Jill and Larry Kaplan
Jill and Larry Kaplan may not have family connections to ALS, but their dedication to The ALS Association is definitely personal. Through all of the events they participate in, they have become friends with many patients, families, and staff at The Greater Philadelphia Chapter.
Those friendships didn’t start yesterday though. In 1993, Larry owned a sports memorabilia store when Curt Schilling came in to do a signing. Following that, Larry got involved with Curt’s Pitch and when he went to one of the parties said “You know, I‘m always here if you need help.”
That willingness to help when needed defines Larry and Jill who together have made so many of our events successful, especially Hot Chocolate.
Larry and Jill attended their first Hot Chocolate after winning tickets at one of the Curt’s Pitch events. They thought the whole event was awesome, which is generally how people feel when surrounded by chocolate, so they decided to volunteer the next year. The joined the committee not long after that in 2007 and have been making it a better and tastier event every year since.
“Without Larry and Jill, we wouldn’t have ¾ of the vendors and chocolate we do for Hot Chocolate. They are committed to our cause as a team and do it all together.” – Julie McKeever.
The Kaplans are a team. “It’s great to do the work together,” says Jill Kaplan. “We both have our strong points and we work off of each other. There are some things that Larry can do well and other things I can do. Between the two of us, we make things successful.”
If getting vendors for Hot Chocolate was all they did, the Kaplans would be amazing enough, but of course they do not stop there. They promote the event everywhere they can, including radio interviews. They have become good friends with many patients and families, including Gary Temoyan, through working together on promotions.
Like so many of our volunteers, the patients living with ALS are what motivate the Kaplans, but for many personal reasons.
“These patients can be just like us,” says Larry Kaplan. “It’s not like you have to drink and smoke all of your life to get ALS. It comes out of nowhere. We want to make families’ lives as comfortable as we can and The ALS Association does that by taking care of anything anyone needs.
If I were in that position, I’d want someone helping me.”
In order for the Greater Philadelphia Chapter to do anything patients and families need, we depend on people like Larry and Jill to do all the things we need for our events. Both of them have full time jobs and are busy with their children, but still make time to volunteer. In fact, when they go out, their kids often ask “Do you guys have an ALS meeting again?”
Even with all that they have going on in their lives, the Kaplans always want to help. People have told Larry “When I have time, I’m going to volunteer just like you guys,” but Larry is quick to respond with “Don’t wait! Do you think we have time? You can help now! You can make a difference by just doing something.”
As parents, Larry and Jill have taught that lesson about making time for others to their 9 year old daughter Sydney and 6 year old son Riley. They want to help. Sydney set up a Lemonade Stand to raise money for The ALS Association and her parents could not be prouder.
“If anyone asks why I do it, I do it because I don’t want anyone to know anyone else who has ALS. If my small piece has an effect on finding a cure, then it is worth it to do what I can,” said Jill.
Through all that Jill and Larry Kaplan do to raise awareness and money for patient services and research towards a cure, it is safe to say that their time is worth every second to The Greater Philadelphia Chapter. That is why we are proud to recognize them as our Volunteers of the Month.
"Hot Chocolate was enjoyable, fun and exciting. I really enjoyed meeting and getting
to know other people in the same situation as me. I'm already looking forward to next year.
Thank you for a great night!!"
- Gary Beech