Written By: Joseph S. Pete, The Times
Photo By: Kale Wilk, The Times
Albert’s Diamond Jewelers raised about $18,000 auctioning off jewelry in its store at Indianapolis Boulevard and Main Street during its first fundraiser for multiple sclerosis research 16 years ago.
By 2017, the annual Albert’s MS Auction sold off hundreds of donated items that included cars, sports tickets and fine whiskies, packing hundreds of people into the 6,500-square-foot W.F. Wellman Exhibit Hall in the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond every year. Halpern wondered where the fundraiser ranked nationally at a planning meeting with his staff.
His team discovered the fundraising gala was the third largest that year, with a haul of $220,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"We're a family company that tries to exceed and excel in everything we do," Halpern said. "We reached out to clients, friends and business people in the community to propel it to the next level. We strove to be No. 1."
Albert's Diamond Jewelers, at 711 Main St. in Schererville, was recently informed its MS fundraiser is now first in the nation, with $309,000 raised for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society last year, surpassing a Texas barbecue competition that long had been number one.
"We had a great group of people who were very generous on the day of the event," he said. "We made small tweaks to keep the momentum going and the positive impact propelled us forward."
Albert's MS Auction includes a live auction of 125 to 150 items, like fine jewelry, trips and restaurant dining experiences. There are silent auctions on another 200 to 250 items donated by the local business community.
Halpern family matriarch Donna Halpern has battled MS for decades. It's a chronic disease that disrupts the central nervous system, affecting millions of people around the world.
The auction raises money to help find a cure and to provide multiple sclerosis navigator funds to help local people with expenses like medication, nurses, wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps.
"Because our expenses are 100% covered before our event, we are able to contribute what we raise to charities that do not have administrative fees," he said. "When people donate with us, it's going directly to research and development to help find a cure. A large percentage of people with multiple sclerosis live in the Midwest, so people here are more likely to have a loved one touched by multiple sclerosis."
Albert's MS Auction returns this year at 1 p.m. Oct. 6 at 7770 Corinne Drive in Hammond, with a preview at noon.
"It's fun-filled. There's a lot of energy in the room," Halpern said. "When you spend money it's a 100% tax write-off that goes to charity. So you can feel good and proud about your donation, while walking away with a great value... We don't want to take our foot off the gas. We want to be No. 1 again."
For more information, visit albertsmsauction.com.
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