47°FOvercastFull Forecast

Before the buckets dropped: Years later, girl still raising money, awareness for ALS

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 7:16 a.m. CDT
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Eleanor Keelan, 12, braids a bracelet on the back deck of her family's La Grange Park home on Friday. She has been raising money for ALS for the last couple of years by selling the bracelets she makes.
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Eleanor Keelan, 12, of La Grange Park, has been raising money for ALS for the last couple of years by selling bracelets she makes.

LA GRANGE PARK – While millions of people around the country are taking on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by drenching themselves with freezing buckets of water, one La Grange Park resident began her drive to raise money for the ALS Association about two years ago.

Eleanor Keelan, 12, a seventh-grader at St. Francis Xavier School, began her mission to raise awareness about ALS after her cousin taught her how to make braided friendship bracelets. Shortly after learning how to make the bracelet’s, Keelan’s uncle, Tim, was diagnosed with ALS.

Keelan said she got the idea to make and sell the bracelet’s to raise funds for research after making the first one for her uncle.

“It’s so easy to contribute and give money and it makes me really happy [to make the bracelets],” Keelan said.

So far, Keelan has raised more than $1,000 for the ALS Association.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to the ALS Association’s website. The disease eventually eliminates the brain’s ability to control and initiate muscle movement.

The bracelets – being sold for donations – are crafted with inspirational words and vibrant colors. After tying a special knot at one end, Keelan braids the strands together to create the bracelets. All proceeds are donated to the ALS Association.

Keelan said it makes her happy to create the bracelets, and she doesn’t want to see people be affected by the disease any more.

“It was hard on our family to lose my uncle, and I don’t think any family should have to go through that,” Keelan said. 

Seeing her daughter have so much motivation toward the cause has made her mom, Linda, extremely proud.

“From the beginning, of course we were totally backing her up on it,” Linda Keelan said. “She works like crazy on the bracelets.”

Although Keelan has been working to raise money for ALS for quite some time, that didn’t stop her and her family from joining in on the ice bucket fun. The family did a group challenge this past weekend, according to Keelan, who described the challenge as a great movement.

“[The Ice Bucket Challenge] is really great because it raises awareness,” Keelan said. “People who didn’t know about the disease a month ago are now dumping ice on themselves and they’re raising so much money.”

Get breaking and town-specific news sent to your phone. Sign up for text alerts from the Suburban Life Media.