June 2012 Volunteer of the Month
You can’t spell Jim De Angelis without angel. While Jim may be too humble to use words like that, the staff, volunteers, families and people living with ALS who have worked with him for over a decade would say that and more about The Greater Philadelphia Chapter June Volunteer of the Month.
In a very familiar story, Jim got involved with The Greater Philadelphia Chapter through the Phillies, where he was working in their scouting department. As Jim puts it, he had his “first taste of The ALS Association in 1998 through working with the Phillies and meeting people living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Those people made a tremendous impact on him.
Three years later, Jim went to work with the Lakewood Blue Claws Minor League team, which gave him a chance to move back to the Jersey Shore. Since the Blue Claws are an affiliate of the Phillies, Jim, as Director of Community Relations, was asked if they could do something to help people with ALS.
For most people, this would be a simple story that ends there. Jim would help because of the great work of the Phillies and that would be a sufficient conclusion.
Jim De Angelis, however, is not most people. He remembered the stories of people he had met who had ALS and he went the extra mile. That year, he started the Blue Claws celebrity waiter event. It was an idea he borrowed from when he was a lifeguard many years earlier. In fact, a photo of his time lifeguarding hangs in his Blue Claws office and it clearly has served as a great inspiration. He knew that celebrity waiter events could be fun and effective and since that first event back in 2001 through the latest one on May 23, the Lakewood Blue Claws have raised over $100,000 to fight ALS.
“It’s great to see how one person can help make a difference in this fight,” said Jim. “Every person I meet motivates me to do more.”
One of those people that Jim De Angelis met was Cathy Reiman, who had been diagnosed with ALS. She met Jim at the first waiter event and approached him about doing a Walk to Defeat ALS®. Her story and energy helped motivate Jim to get more involved. From that meeting, the Seaside Board…Walk to Defeat ALS® was born.
This May, we celebrated the 10th Annual Seaside Board…Walk to Defeat ALS® by raising over $100,000 and even having a wedding proposal! The walk has turned into more than Jim or Cathy ever imagined, bringing hope to families all over New Jersey and beyond. Jim even had team manager Mickey Morandini come and cut the ribbon, though nobody expected Mickey’s spotlight to be taken away by a bride to be saying yes.
“Jim is as dedicated and committed to families living with ALS as anyone I have ever met. Nothing is too much for him,” said Jim Pinciotti, Executive Director of The Greater Philadelphia Chapter. “His energy and focus on doing the very best makes him a very special volunteer and an inspiration to all. I am blessed to know him.”
“It makes you a believer to know that the organization does great work,” said De Angelis when he heard that he would be the June Volunteer of the Month. “To hear people say ‘this organization does wonderful things for me and my family’ is very motivating. I have had the chance to see families grow up in the ten years we have done the Seaside Board…Walk to Defeat ALS®.”
One special person he’s had the privilege of seeing is Cathy Reiman. Not long after they worked together on that first walk, Cathy learned that she was miss-diagnosed and she is now living a healthy life in Ohio. The two met up again when Jim went to Ohio for the All-Star game and the memories of working together, plus knowing that she is doing well, puts a huge smile on his face.
It is a smile he shares with everyone and in turn motivates them to do more.
The success of the Seaside Board…Walk to Defeat ALS® and the Lakewood Blue Claws celebrity waiter event have led to them having lives of their own. They continue to grow organically because of Jim’s hard work and leadership. Many people who had never heard of Lou Gehrig’s Disease come and learn and become connected to the cause.
Jim De Angelis likes to talk about all the people that drive him to do more for others, but, through his genuine desire to defeat ALS, he has become the person who motivates others. Because of that, we are proud to call him a friend of the chapter and our June Volunteer of the Month.