SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (WBAY) – A group of 12 women, who all graduated from the same high school class in Sheboygan, are banding together in support of a friend who is fighting a debilitating disease.
In a room full of women who have known each other for decades, it’s hard to get a word in, but who needs words when looking at an ‘au naturel’ calendar featuring 12 high school friends.
“I thought we can do this, we can do it tastefully and we can have fun with it and raise a couple of eye brows,” said TC McCarty, Miss May. “Let’s get 12 girls together, our high school friends, and let’s do an ‘au naturel’ calendar.”
“As a joke I said I could be miss November with a turkey in front of me,” said Margaret Hand, Miss November.
“I am decked out with my golf bag and that is about it. And my argyle socks,” said Marion Helf, Miss June.
“I love to cook and I love to drink wine but obviously a wine glass couldn’t cover me,” said Sally Nead, Miss August.
“I’m a big card player. I love cards and then I like to go to the casino once in a while too,” said Bobbie Kussard, Miss July.
But there’s more that meets the eye when it comes to this calendar. If you look closely at each picture, there is a book in it that is titled “ALS Research.”
“Wendy was certainly the inspiration for this calendar,” said McCarty.
In 2011, Wendy Rauwerdink was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis which is a neuro-degenerative disease.
“The cells that control muscle movement– those motor neurons are dying and as they die they no longer function,” said Milan Karol, the philanthropy officer with Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins.
Rauwerdink has been bedridden for the past two years and the disease has robbed her of her favorite activities.
“Ultimately it is a fatal disease,” said Karol.
But Rauwerdink isn’t about to let it rob her of her determination to fight ALS and what better way to fund research than through a calendar featuring all of her friends.
“There it started! She gave me a list of 12 girls and I called them all,” said McCarty.
McCarty said it was a hard sell at first
“I said TC you are nuts. I can’t do that,” said Kiki Suscha, Miss December.
“It was like are you in or not? And it’s like what do you mean and she said this is going to go,” said Suzie Warmus, Miss January.
But as soon as they found out it was for Rauwerdink and that 100 percent of the proceeds would go toward ALS research at Johns Hopkins, they just couldn’t say no.
“This one really rose to the top of something we could do on our own,” said Susan Ramey, Miss February.
“We are all 60 years old. We are not selling outer beauty. We are selling inner beauty that came from our inspiration from Wendy,” said Mary Jo Vollrath, Miss April.
“To just have it be something to meaningful to myself, to my mom to my family, it’s been a really great experience,” Tom Rauwerdink, Wendy’s son and graphic designer of calendar.
“They are going to touch lives they don’t know. They are going to touch the hearts of people they’ve never met. They are going to cause people to be inspired and say I can do something,” said Karol.
“This isn’t about keeping our friend here. It’s about maybe somebody else having a better life who develops this disease as well,” said Vollrath.
“We were brave enough to do it in a very unique way that only girls from 1972 would do,” said McCarty.
The ALS Calendar Girls of ’72 have donated about $22,000 to ALS research so far. If you would like to buy a calendar, head to www.alscalendargirlsof72.com. If you would like to learn more about ALS research, head to www.alscenter.org.