Saturday, May 2, 2020

Time For Us All to Be Salzburg Strong

Let's step it up for Tom Salzburg and his family
Tom Salzburg and family on a recent spring day.

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Even in Tom Salzburg’s darkest days, family, friends and total strangers are providing light.

“We have an amazing community,” Tom’s wife, Kelly, says. She recounts instances of strangers dropping off envelopes with money and gift cards at the Salzburg home in Clearing. They also drop off food.

People she doesn’t know who learned about Tom’s struggle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig Disease) from the website have offered their time and services. A painter offered his time and talent to the Salzburgs. A mechanic has donated his time and fixed up Tom’s car.

In the photo above, Tom and his family pose for a photo after watching a surprise motorcade staged in his honor. It went past the front of the family home in Clearing. Sharing the joy with him in the photo were his wife, Kelly; son, Tommy; daughter, Ashley; daughter, Amber Rivera; son-in-law, Will Rivera; and grandson, William Rivera.

“We are so blessed,” Kelly adds. “I am finding more good
The feelings of many, written on a sign posted on the day of the motorcade.
people than bad people--people offering a helping hand.”

Kelly also says that “time is a priceless gift.” That is something she and Tom measure in minutes and hours. 

Despite the disease that ravages her husband’s body, Kelly says, “Tom still has fight left [in his spirit]. It’s his body that is failing.” Tom is in hospice now. He is battling Bulbar onset ALS, a rare type of ALS.

Tom’s health has declined rapidly since his diagnosis on his 54th birthday last August 8. Most patients diagnosed with Bulbar onset ALS have a life span of approximately 18 months.

Kelly and the whole family are working to pull together a  Salzburg Strong benefit in Tom's honor. 

The event, postponed four months by the pandemic, is now scheduled to take place from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday, August 9 at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door for adults. Kids 5 to 20 will pay $15, and children younger than 5 will be admitted for free.

Tickets are available on the Salzburg Strong website-just click on the Buy Tickets tab. If you want to donate now or sponsor the benefit, or learn about other fundraising efforts, all the information is on the website.

People who want to donate in a more immediate sense are encouraged to visit the Salzburg Strong GoFundMe page online. Since it was started on Nov. 13, the GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $24,000 from 229 donors. The goal is $50,000.

For those who don’t want to make a donation online, checks made payable to Salzburg Strong may be set to BMO Harris Bank, 101 Burr Ridge Parkway, Burr Ridge, IL 60527, attention: Jason K. Refer to the account number ending in 5432.

Tom Salzburg has been an acclaimed rock drummer and vocalist for some four decades.

In the 1980s, Tom earned his stripes with No Mercy and Tattoo. In recent years, he has been a key member of Bad Medicine and Motley II. He founded and fronted Cooper’s Dead Things, an Alice Cooper tribute band. Tom’s son, Tommy Jr., is the drummer in that band.

Kelly calls the August 9 benefit a musical extravaganza. It will feature Tom’s bands, past and present, rocking the house. It will also include live auctions and raffles.

The difference in this benefit is that Kelly is hoping to have representatives from the ALS Foundation and the ALS Therapy Development Institute attend to let everyone know all about ALS and how they can help win the fight against the disease. ALS TDI is a research facility that Kelly credits helping the Salzburg family and working very hard to find a cure for the disease. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will also go toward ALS research.

The rest of the proceeds will go toward the family’s critical needs.

“We have some very real debt for medical bills, supplies and home modifications--especially after the loss of income when Tom could no longer work or perform and I had to take a leave of absence from my second job to become his full-time caregiver,” Kelly adds.

I want to thank Kelly for taking the time to speak with me. As you might imagine, her life these days is a real whirlwind that can leave a person dazed.

Well, I’m proud to say that like many, many people in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (and at many points beyond), I am Salzburg Strong.

I plan to be at the benefit in August, and I hope to see you there. So please go to today, buy your tickets and donate in any other way you can.

Tom Salzburg (second from left) accepts thunderous applause from an emotionally-charged audience at his last performance as a rock musician, earlier this year. Standing with him, literally and figuratively, are (from left) his wife, Kelly; daughter, Ashley; daughter, Amber Rivera; son, Tommy Jr.; and son-in-law, Will Rivera.

The Southwest Chicago Post is proud to be a friend of Salzburg Strong, as well as an in-kind donor to the Salzburg Strong fundraisers. Community support for Tom Salzburg and his family is a just one of many examples of what makes this corner of Chicago such a great place. Please click on the links embedded in the story above and join in, won't you?

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