Legacy of area woman with ALS lives on

December 23, 2010 10:12:07 AM PST
Regardless of her inability to speak, a Chicago-area business woman with ALS has given new voice to the devastating disease.

Unfortunately, it took her life too soon.

Anne Marie Schlekeway, 44, was diagnosed with ALS six and a half years ago. A successful corporate business coach, even when she was unable to speak, Anne was still effective.

"I've had coaches for years and years, and I would say that Anne Marie's absolutely the most effective coach I've ever had," said Dianna Smith, who was Anne Marie's client for three years.

"In 36 months, I've over doubled my income, which you know is the most important part to me about coming to work with Anne Marie -- was my income -- but in the same time, I'm in a fantastic relationship with an awesome guy," Smith said.

Communicating played a significant role in Anne Marie's business. The disability started with her tongue, says mom Marjorie.

"In fact, she told me, 'I can no longer whistle,' and she used to have this very strong whistle, you know. It would turn out at basketball games and football games and stuff like that," said Marjorie.

It also forced her to change the way she did business. Anne Maries started "speechless speeches."

"I mean, it's changed the way we've communicated. I think we still work the same way, but instead of her speaking, same thing we do a lot of things now on email if we're just working together. Just a second ago, it's me talking and her writing," said Kirk Miller, who worked with Anne Marie.

To fight ALS, Anne Marie created an online awareness program called "Kiss My ALS."

"What did I think? I laughed. I thought it was -- that's her, that is her, you know," said Marjorie. "And that's where she call it venting, you know. That's where she like vents her emotions and what's happening to her and she talks about her business, talks about the disease progressing."

Regardless of her inability to speak, Anne Marie's advice will always be remembered.

"It's fascinating because every time I've heard her say it -- do you know what I mean-- it's as if she said the stuff I find myself going, 'Oh, Anne Marie said.' Well, that's very strange because Anne Marie didn't say anything," Dianne Smith said.

A memorial for Anne Marie is planned for December 28th in Minooka. The memorial will be held at:

Skinny's Bar and Grill
109 E. Mondamin Street
Minooka, IL

A memorial for Chicago is pending.

To learn more about Kiss My ALS, log on to www.kissmyals.com.


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