Conquer MG celebrates 50 years serving the MG Community

Conquer MG is proud to have served the MG community since 1972! Thanks, MG advocate SeAndrea Ferguson, for creating this video that reflects our joy at turning 50.

This organization has hit many milestones in the past 50 years!

1972 Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of IllinoisThe organization incorporates as the Greater Chicago Area Chapter, Myasthenia Gravis Foundation, Inc.
200 people attend the first public meeting of MG patients and neurologists at Chicago’s Standard Club.
1973Our Medical Advisory Board is established to provide medical resources and respond to member questions.
In addition to funding our own initiatives, MGFI began paying dues to and supporting the national Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America.
Over the years, our organization has operated both as an affiliate of MGFA and as an independent (as we are now).
MG Newsletter “Conquer”, established, to be sent to members on a quarterly basis
Fellowships established for education/research in MG
1974Patient Handbook published and distributed to members
1973 – 2012
1975: Theater party fundraiser at Drury Lane production of “My Three Angels”, starring Chuck Connors. 865 tickets sold, resulting in a net profit of nearly $9,000.

Looking back at other fundraisers is a nostalgic walk through the past:
1975: Theater benefit at Drury Lane North, with a play staring Nanette Fabray, raised  $5,000
1977: Dinner-theater benefit at Drury Lane South, play starring Mickey Rooney, raised $6,200
1979-1980: Lunch/fashion show in Bensenville, Illinois, raised $2,000
1983: Charity Bazaar/Garage Sale raised $800
1985: Chuck Mangione concert fundraiser raised nearly $2,000
1985-1986: Raffle books, Entertainment book fundraisers netted $5-$6,000
1994: Calendar Club fundraiser established
1996-1997: Maywood Park “Night at the Races” raised $5,600.
2009-2012: Strike Out MG fundraisers at Kane County Cougars and Schaumburg Flyers games raised $2000
2016: Bocce Ball party, Oak Brook
2017-18-19: Trivia Nights with Jim White at the American Legion, each raising $2,500

1976A medical consultation program on MG was shown in February  on Chicago TV channels 7 and 11
Library of tapes on the subject of MG established
Spring membership drive added 100 new members
1977Jean Kempton, author of the book, “Living with Myasthenia Gravis,” gave a presentation at the September meeting.
City of Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic proclaimed for the first time a “Myasthenia Week” for the city.
1978Governor Jim Thompson declared for the first time an “MG Week” for the State of Illinois.
1981Annual Conquer award established to honor an individual for service to the organization
198210th Anniversary celebration of establishment of Myasthenia Foundation of Greater Chicago, Il.
1983MG office moved to Addison, Ill.
1984Beth Shaffer hired as first Executive Director.
$5,500 received from Frances Beidler Charitable Trust
1987Executive Director Leah M. Kranz hired
1988MG survey sent to 650 members.. Results show countless numbers of positive comments.
1991501(c)(3) rating to operate as an organization separate from the national organization was received from IRS.
$1,000 grant made for purchase of a synthesizer to research the molecular biology of Myasthenia.
20th anniversary of organization celebrated on the Odessey Cruise ship on Sept. 20.
1995Organization name changed from Myasthenia Gravis Foundation, Chicago Chapter, to Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Illinois.
Joyce Holste elected to Board.
1996New area group established in Winfield. and Elmwood Park
199725th Anniversary celebration at Maywood Park “Night at the Races” raised $5,600.
$40,000 anonymous donation received
A 55 minute interview on MG was presented on Chicago Bear radio. Joyce Holste, Helen DeWitt, and Dr. Scott Heller were interviewed
1998 Dr. Wayne Rubenstein volunteered to produce a web page for the organization
1999$10,000 grant given to Rush-St. Luke’s for research on Cellcept website is launched.
2000PSA project undertaken to spread knowledge of MG throughout the Chicago area. Radio, TV, print media, Oprah and Jenny Jones are contacted.
Congressional campaign started to investigate the shortage of certain MG drugs
2002 30th anniversary Chicago cruise night
2004 A Nurses Advisory Board was activated. It will provide outreach educational program about MG for community nurses.
2006MGFI supported national MGFA annual conference held in Chicago
Support groups in South Suburbs and Quad Cities were restarted
Office moved to Elmhurst, Illinois
Kimberly LaBounty becomes Executive Director
$50,000 anonymous donation given to MGFI
2007The organization offers 7-8 in-person support groups throughout Illinois and NW Indiana
Annual meetings hosted in the Chicago area provide education to MG patients
The Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Illinois on YouTubeFirst video posted to MGFI’s YouTube Channel
Joan Wincentsen becomes member of Board of Trustees
Board member Peggy Cashman publishes “The Mystery Guest, MG”
2009-2010-2011Attacking MG  Walk-Run-Swim hosted in Springfield, Illinois, by Kaitlyn Jasmon to benefit MGFI
2010 Started Pilot Grant program to promote early development of new ideas, collection of preliminary data; from 2010-2021 have funded 13 studies, $900,000
2012Adopted the vision statement “Eliminate Myasthenia Gravis” and the Values Statement “We work to achieve our mission and vision through our organization, values of care, hope, inspiration, awareness and advocacy.”
2012Held “MG Across Generations” panel discussion in Bloomington/Normal
201240th Anniversary – Drury Lane brunch with Second City troop and raffle; Lisa Guerrero wins Inspiration Contest
2012 Bences Maravilla begins raising MG awareness in Chicago-area Latin communities – walking in Aurora’s 4th of July parade &Puerto Rican Festival Parade, Fox Valley United Way Cardboard Boat Race, Latin Health Fairs, when visiting soccer and baseball teams in California and beyond
2013 Myasthenia Gravis Foundation Gift StoreHosted 1st annual  Strides Against MG Walk to raise MG awareness and funds

Joan Wincentsen becomes Executive Director

Joined AARDA – now Autoimmune Association to be our eyes on Washington/legislation; have signed many letters advocating improved access to treatments for rare disease, promoting development of treatments
2014Started the Patient Assistance Program for MG patients in need in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin; have fulfilled 150 requests for support with $100,000
2016 Renamed the organization Conquer Myasthenia Gravis (Conquer MG for short)
2020Walk becomes Viking Run/Walk
2019 Joined MGNet to fund MG research with NIH and MGFA; consortium of academia, pharma and patient advocacy groups; enables us to fund innovative MG research worldwide, and have direct access to the MG research community
2014 – 2017 – 2020 Exercise fitness and treatments with MGConquer MG presents innovative content on exercise for MG patients, emphasizing wellness and self-care
2021 Conquer MG presents innovative content on diet for MG patients, with wellness focus
2019Conquer MG begins working with pharma in their quest to deliver MG treatments
2020-2022Conquer MG shares its Medical Advisory Board’s COVID guidance through its newsletter, website and email updates
2020In-person support groups suspended to protect MG patients. Webinars are offered in place of in-person educational events.
2021 Walk goes virtual, becomes the Viking Challenge for MG. The Anywhere MG virtual monthly support group is started. Five webinars provide education for hundreds of MG patients.
2021 Conquer MG imagines a “World Without MG,” inviting the MG Community to draw their vision of hope on a virtual whiteboard. Following the sudden passing of Board member Tracy Shackelford, the next year’s walk is dedicated to her memory.
2022 50th Anniversary celebrated, 10th annual Walk/Run takes place -virtually and in-person. 1st Tracy Shackelford MG Service Award is presented to support group leader Mary Kay Hoffmann. Executive Director Joan Wincentsen is presented with the Above and Beyond Award. Several support groups experiment with in-person meetings.