Skip to main content

MEET A CHANGE MAKER: Gary Morley from Laskowski Ace Hardware

Tell us about yourself…

My name is Gary Morley and I manage the Laskowski McHenry Ace Hardware store in McHenry IL.

I’ve lived in McHenry all my life and started raising funds for Lurie Children’s at our store in 2006 through our first-ever BBQ cook off contest. In addition to the event, we raise funds through Ace’s Round Up program and host in-store raffles to raise money. I was nominated for the CMN Hospitals Excellence Award in the category of Local Corporate Person of the Year award.

What fundraising achievements are you most proud of?

I would have to say our BBQ cook off contest is the event we are most proud of. We hold it in the fall of each year, we are now on our 14th year. The event is attended by hundreds of people and we hold raffles and sell the tickets for $1 each for all the great items donated by our vendors. There are games for the kids to play, as well as a balloon artist and face painter.

We have about 15 teams cooking and that many judges tasting the entries. We also sell hot dogs, brats, pork chop sandwich and my world-famous Jalapeno poppers that help raise even more funds. In just one day, our event raises about $9,000 for the patients and families at Lurie Children’s!

What inspires you to raise funds and awareness for Lurie Children’s?

What inspires me the most is the children and their smiles. My granddaughter was treated in Madison Children Hospital and now is doing great. One of my good friend’s grandson Henry spent his 1 year of life at Lurie Children’s, and to hear the stories of how they were treated was amazing. That year we donated all the funds we raised to a program called Memories Held that was unfunded. When Ace Hardware corporate learned about the Memories Held photography program, we were raising money for, they committed to funding the program indefinitely.

I was really inspired by the Fontanetta family and their journey with Lurie Children’s. Ellie, was the 2013 Ace All Star, serving as the face for Ace’s nationwide CMNH fundraising and I got to meet her at our annual convention and still have her trading card at my desk as daily inspiration!

Is there anything special you’ve learned along the way?

What I have learned is that there are many children and families that need our help. At one cookoff event we were handing out the awards, taking photos and as I thanked one of the winners, he said “no thank YOU. My daughter is at Lurie Children’s right now.” In that moment I realized you never know who you are helping.

Any advice for other CMN fundraisers?

Get involved – it all helps a great cause! Visit the hospital it will inspire you.