January 2015 Volunteer of the Month

Sandy Saul

Sandy Saul knows how important it is to have somebody by your side when ALS turns your world upside down. The ALS Association provides many health related services, from clinics to wheelchairs to assistive technology, but sometimes it is the intangible services that mean the most to a family.

In 2004, Sandy learned this lesson when her father, Bert Crowder, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Over a decade later, Sandy remains grateful to the local DC/MD/VA Chapter for all that they did to support her father and the family. The Chapter provided a lot of relief and care, but the most valuable piece of support came in how they allowed Bert to see his own dreams become reality.

“Our most precious experience with the DC/MD/VA Chapter was that they provided the opportunity for my father to have his dying wish,” said Sandy. “He wanted to go back to the farm where he was born and raised near Roanoake, VA. The Chapter very graciously made it possible for him to have transportation to take that trip with his power chair. He was able to say goodbye to his ‘home’ and to his brother and family that still lived there. I will always be grateful that the ALS Association provides people with ALS with so much.”

Bert Crowder passed away in August of 2005, just three days after that trip that was made possible by his local ALS Association Chapter. While her father died that summer day, the happy memory will live forever in Sandy’s heart and mind. She took it upon herself to make sure others with ALS could live with warmth, comfort, dignity, friendship and positivity to the very end.

Back home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Sandy wanted to find a way to give back to a cause that meant so much to her. She had seen how the ALS Association could lift the spirits of a person facing such a challenging disease and she wanted to do her part to make sure that others could have the comfort and companionship that she had when her father was living with ALS. With that memory still very fresh in her mind, Sandy Saul became a Visiting Volunteer with the Greater Philadelphia Chapter, one year after her father had died.

In 2006, the Chapter connected Sandy with a local woman with ALS and they quickly developed a strong friendship. Sandy has been meeting with the same person for over 8 years now, getting together every other week to discuss their lives, their families, and many happy personal memories. Even though Sandy is the volunteer, she doesn’t always come alone. She has brought her dog to visit and even connected her family to her new friend on multiple occasions.

Sandy has been able to make a new friend out of this experience, something that you can’t put a price tag on that gives great meaning to both people. They enjoy their time together and it provides good feeling to Sandy, knowing she is giving back in the same way that The ALS Association supported her father.

Last year, Sandy made another friend with ALS as a Visiting Volunteer who had moved in with family and had no friends in the area. They shared time together and Sandy was able to let the new friend forget about ALS for a bit, giving her at least a mental and spiritual reprieve from the disease. That new friend lost her battle with ALS this past fall, but, for those months, Sandy was able to give her some ease and many smiles along the way.

“My hope and prayer is that I am able to bring joy and provide these people with ALS and their families some one that can talk with them that knows what they are experiencing,” said Sandy. “In a very abnormal situation, I want them to feel normal and help walk that journey with them. I’m so glad that I can give back to such a wonderful organization.”

Often, a person with ALS will need assistance with home ramping, or a speech device, or a new wheelchair. However, people with ALS also have the same needs and wants as everybody else. A smile, a hug, a friend to help you during the hard times and to share the happy moments as well. Sandy knows how difficult this disease can be, but, for nearly a decade, she has stepped up to be that friend. The Chapter and our ALS families are glad to have her by our side.


 
 

The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter
321 Norristown Road - Suite 260, Ambler, PA 19002
215-643-5434

The ALS Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.