For some, it’s about community. For others, it’s about cause. But for all the committee members we talked to for the annual Albert’s Diamond Jeweler’s annual MS auction, one thing is common.
The annual MS Auction event organized by Albert’s Diamond Jewelers raises awareness and funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and 100 percent of proceeds go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to fund research toward eradicating the crippling neurological disease.
It’s personal for Albert’s, too. Donna Halpern of the Halpern family that owns Albert’s, has battled MS for much of her adult life. The auction, now in its 16th year, has grown to be the nation’s largest private fundraiser for the National MS Society. First hosted at their jewelry store, the event is now located at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.
“To me, personally, this event helps me stay grounded. There is so much noise in the world – so much of it is frivolous and unimportant, so to know that I’m a small part of something so significant helps,” said Speros Batistatos, President and CEO of the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority.
When Albert’s approached the South Shore CVA with a request to host the event there, it happened to fall at a perfect time in the CVA’s busy meeting space calendar. Batistatos said it’s a natural alignment.
“When you look at the commitment and support for the event, and the outpouring of donations and businesses helping, it was just a natural for us to participate with this mission. To us, it’s something we want to embrace with respect to giving back to the community,” he said.
Jono Gross from True Mtn Marketing has seen first-hand the effects of MS on people in his life.
“When I was growing up, my friend’s dad was diagnosed with MS. As I got older, I began to take care of his lawn, and that later turned into a friendship. Stan is now one of one of my good friends whom I talk to every day - a mentor of mine I couldn’t imagine doing life without,” he said.
“Our friend Johnny also has a mom who struggles with MS, and we while we do our best to take her out from time to time, we watch Johnny take care of his mom day by day. This is a cause that is affecting some of the most important people around us and means a lot more to us than an ordinary fundraiser,” Gross said.
Rich Pietrzak at Lithographic Communications said Donna Halpern from Albert’s is among his “why” for getting involved with the event, but he also has a family member battling the disease.
“It’s a debilitating disease that robs people of everyday life. We as a community have the opportunity but also the duty to give back, whether it be monetarily or by donating time to help a good cause. I can say that this cause is worth definitely worth it,” Pietrzak said.
The Albert’s team represents for MS in other ways, too. Most recently Team Albert’s gathered for the annual NWI MS Walk, with the Halpern family front and center to help raise awareness and funds for the cause. Their region-wide philanthropy for MS and so many other causes is another reason Batistatos thinks the MS Auction is worth supporting.
“This event, I think, is the yardstick against what all special events like this in the should be measured,” Batistatos said. “When you think about it, they’ve raised $2 million to help combat this horrible disease, and 100 percent of the proceeds go toward the cause. Josh (Halpern), Fred (Halpern) and the whole team at Albert’s – they’re known for their philanthropy, they’re inspirations to us all, and I think we can all look to the work they are doing and strive to emulate it.”
Chris White, President and Publisher of The Times Media Company, agreed.
“The Times is proud to support the Halpern family in their work to raise awareness, as well as funds, for a cure for this horrific disease that affects too many people in the Region. It really says something about the type of business that Albert’s is. They’ve touched so many lives and created so many relationships, which is why so many businesses and individuals are willing to donate to this cause. It’s become one of the largest fundraisers in Northwest Indiana because of their passion and determination to make a difference,” he said.
The 2019 Auction is slated for Oct. 6 with a Noon preview and a 1 p.m. start, at the Hammond Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond. More than 300 items will be up for grabs, and everything will be sold. Items include spa packages, golf packages, fine art, fine wines and premium spirits, hundreds of gift certificates from local businesses, sporting tickets, concert tickets, autographed sports memorabilia, sports equipment, and more than 100 gift baskets.
Albert’s aims to break their own record in 2019. Sponsors and donors for the Albert’s Diamond Jeweler’s 16th Annual MS Auction are still welcome and needed. Go here for details: https://albertsmsauction.com/