Wilmette, Community

Here Comes Santa Cause: Photos with big guy doubles as fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 28

There’s a reason for the season, and it may start Sunday at Central Station Coffee & Tea in Wilmette.

Neighbors will be helping neighbors when they stop by the cafe to enjoy Santa for a Cause from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28. While Santa will be on hand for two hours to take photos, proceeds throughout the day will support I AM ALS, a nonprofit started by Kenilworth residents to battle the neurodegenerative disease.

Kenilworth’s Brian Wallach was diagnosed with ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2017. He and his wife, Sandra Abrevaya, launched I AM ALS in an effort to help Wallach control his ALS journey. They built a platform to connect the ALS community, from patients to caregivers to donors and more.

Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya, of Kenilworth, started I AM ALS after Wallach was diagnosed with the disease. | Photo from iamals.org

Central Station owner Katie Degen opened her coffee shop in the spring of 2021 to provide morning fuel amid a hub of community activity.

She told The Record that she has seen “amazing things come out of the coffee shop” ever since, including the generosity of Wilmette and its neighbors. Hosting a charity event for the Wallach and Abrevaya felt like a natural step.

More than a few of our team at Central Station have followed along with Brian’s and Sandra’s story,” Degen said via email. “As part of our community, it seemed a natural fit to want to wrap our arms around them and bring as much awareness as possible to their story and the movement they’ve championed with I AM ALS.”

During the event Sunday, children can sit with Santa Claus for a photo (taken by local photographer Carolyn Soling) and receive a candy cane. Donations will be accepted for I AM ALS, and 10 percent of sales of beverages and pastries will also benefit the organization all Thanksgiving week.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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