November 2015 Volunteer of the Month

Bob Goudie


At the 2015 Ocean City Board…Walk to Defeat ALS®, Bob Goudie stood at the front before the awards presentation and looked out at another large crowd of family, friends, and supporters. He didn’t say anything at that moment, though he would speak to the crowd to say thanks, but the face of the Goudie patriarch still said so much. He still had the same compassion for ALS families that he has had since starting the walk in 2002, but mixed in with the kindness and care that  describes Bob Goudie so well was another feeling, one that was surely well deserved – pride.

The Greater Philadelphia Chapter has named Bob Goudie the Volunteer of the Month for November of 2015, but it still is difficult to encapsulate Bob’s tremendous work into one single month. After all, Bob has been leading the effort to support ALS families in southern New Jersey for over a decade. It is no exaggeration to say that if you have received ALS care in southern New Jersey in the past ten years, you have probably been impacted by the work of Bob Goudie and his family.

Bob’s story goes back more than ten years though. His wife, Jo Ann Goudie, was diagnosed with ALS in 1999. The entire family rallied to her side in every way they could, offering love and support for a beloved wife, mother, and grandmother. As the disease worsened, the Goudie family didn’t just get mad, they got, rowdy. And that is how Jo’s Rowdy Goudie’s walk team was born.

However, before there can be a walk team, there has to be a walk. In 2002, Bob told the Greater Philadelphia Chapter that there should be a big event in the Ocean City area to raise money and awareness for ALS care and research. He saw that his wife wasn’t the only one struggling with ALS in the local area and he also knew that there was a lot of potential to make a big difference in his community. Somebody had to step up to lead the ALS cause and Bob was going to do it.

Jo Ann Goudie passed away from ALS in 2002. Yet, in the 13 years since then, thousands of people have seen her name and learned her story at the Ocean City Board…Walk to Defeat ALS®. Bob and his family wear her name proudly on their shirts, as a reminder of not only why they started the team and why they started to walk at all, but as a reminder of why there is a Walk to Defeat ALS® in Ocean City. It is a reminder of how the event began, but, just like at the 2015 walk, Bob looks out each year at the great crowd of people and he sees why the walk continues. He sees why the Goudies must stay, to put it in one word… rowdy.

That’s why Bob Goudie is so special and why he has made the fight against ALS a personal mission, but that does not fully explain what he has done and why he deserves recognition for his efforts. To say that Bob started the walk is an understatement. He didn’t merely wake up one day, go to the boardwalk, and say “we should have some people come here to raise some money.” No, Bob found a location, raised awareness in the community and beyond, found vendors and sponsors, worked on logistics with his family and Chapter staff, secured photos and media at the event, and made sure that everybody had a positive experience.

Then he did it a dozen more times year after year.

Since its inception, the Ocean City Board…Walk to Defeat ALS® has raised over $2,000,000. That money has come from many teams, individuals, and sponsors, but that money would not have been raised if Bob Goudie had not said “There needs to be a walk here in our community and we are going to make it happen.”

The fact that the millions of dollars raised came from hundreds of teams through the years adds to the impact of what Bob and his family have done since the walk’s inception in 2002. That is because Bob didn’t just raise money himself for his team, though they are consistently among the top three fundraising teams. No, Bob’s impact is felt because he has organized the community. He’s made sure that teams feel welcomed and appreciated so that they come back every year. He’s gone out and shown the impact The ALS Association has had locally and let ALS families know how they can get more help. When it comes time to take credit, Bob tosses it aside, sharing the success with everyone he knows that helped make the walk possible. That organizing work made Bob a leader locally and a vital force on the Chapter’s board for years as he helped the Chapter grow and remain rooted in patient and family care. Even while turning 80 years old this fall, Bob was still hard at work to make the walk a success and plan for the year ahead.

The Ocean City Board…Walk to Defeat ALS® started as Bob’s walk, but he tells everybody that this is their walk. That generosity is admirable and a big reason why everybody who knows Bob loves him. However, at this time, this volunteer recognition is for Bob. He deserves every word.

Bob regularly looks back at all that his family has been able to do in Jo Ann Goudie’s name, but he also looks forward to a day when nobody has to face the challenges of ALS in New Jersey, or anywhere else for that matter. When that day comes, it will be because Bob Goudie got rowdy and started to walk.


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

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