Published on Friday, 08 October 2010 10:25
A pair of former WGN Radio hosts will be taking part in a big fundraiser for ALS this weekend. The "Help Wes Beat ALS Fundraiser" will be taking place in Davenport, Iowa -- a bit of a drive from Chicago, but the event is still very much a Chicago connection.
Wes Deibert is a well-known gentleman in the Quad Cities area. For much of his life, he was worked to take care of the general public -- as Rock Island, IL Police Officer, a Farmall plant security guard, an Animal Control Officer and even as a toll collector on the Centennial Bridge. He may be best known in that area for making much of the Quad Cities area laugh. He was on the radio as a sidekick of sorts to Spike O'Dell when he worked in that market, prior to coming to WGN-AM in Chicago. After Spike's departure, he also did funny traffic reports for popular local host Mike Kenneally on WLLR. Additionally, Deibert did a series of famously funny furniture store ads on television for Goddard's Furniture, where he would poke fun at a competitor's store and himself.
Residents of Chicago, IL and Madison, WI have Wes Deibert to thank for being the father of radio host Dan Deibert. In addition to inheriting his Father's "funny bone" and becoming a stand-up comic, Dan Deibert was a weekender and top fill-in host for a long time at WGN, making local audiences laugh on the radio. When the new management at WGN-AM came in and wanted to go in a less humorous & more controversial direction, he found full-time work as the afternoon drive host on Madison's WTDY-AM.
Spike O'Dell was born & raised in East Moline, IL and began his highly successful radio career in the Quad Cities. He first worked at KSTT & KIIK in Davenport, IA, before beginning a highly regarded 21.5 year career at WGN Radio in Chicago. He retired at the end of 2008. Though in Chicago for over two decades, O'Dell stayed close friends with Wes Deibert and many of his Quad Cities-area pals.
Wes Deibert has had a rough go of the last few years. About five years ago, he lost a leg in an accident. His friend Spike O'Dell introduced him to famed Chicago Cubs player/broadcaster and double amputee Ron Santo. Santo did more than cheer up Deibert when he needed it -- the two also became good friends -- a friendship that still remains today.
In March of this year, Wes Deibert was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which is better known as Lou Gerhig's Disease. There is no cure for ALS and the disease is fatal. Showing his sense of humor and strong will, Wes Deibert has begun writing about his life and the effects that ALS is having on it on the blogsite he set up, Wes and Lou.com
As a salute to Wes Deibert and as a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for ALS, a party has been set up at Modern Woodmen Park, located at 209 S. Gaines St. in Davenport, IA. The "Help Wes Beat ALS Fundraiser" will take place Saturday from 5:00pm-9:00pm and the admission is only $5. The event will have live music, food & drinks available for purchase, a cork pull with over 100 bottle of wine, and a raffle with over 100 prizes. There will also be a silent auction with signed memorabilia, including many items from the Chicago Cubs (Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, many more), the Chicago Blackhawks (including an autographed 2009-2010 team jersey that Dan Deibert has his eye on), Cal Ripken, the Iowa Hawkeyes football team, and many other valuable items. The emcee for the event will be local radio host Mike Kenneally, along with help from Dan Deibert, Spike O'Dell, and perhaps even an appearance from Ron Santo.
(UPDATE - 10/09/10: Ron Santo will be unable to personally attend the event.)
All money raised will go directly to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association for ALS, not to the Deibert family. Wes Deibert wants a cure for this debilitating disease found so his beloved grandchildren will never have to face this battle.
For those who cannot make it out to the Quad Cities for this event, donations can be sent and checks made out to:
1337 21st Ave., 10B
Rock Island, IL 61201
Spike O'Dell was on the air on Davenport's WOC-AM this week, talking about Wes Deibert, Saturday's event, and what he has been up to since leaving WGN-AM. You can hear that interview on a podcast at this link HERE