For decades, Lonny Strum has helped companies develop successful marketing and business strategies as an ad agency leader and a marketing consultant. However, when his wife, Beth, developed balance and speech issues in 2019, Lonny focused on helping her navigate the medical system in search of an answer. Beth’s difficulties continued to mount, and she was eventually diagnosed with ALS at The Jefferson Weinberg ALS Center in Philadelphia, PA, in November 2019.
Throughout his life and career, Lonny worked with some of the nation’s biggest companies to create powerful marketing programs and no problem was too big. But with Beth’s diagnosis, Lonny faced a problem that was far beyond his skills.
From the start of Beth’s ALS journey, Lonny and Beth received compassion, knowledge, and guidance from the teams at The Jefferson Weinberg ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and at the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. As with all people diagnosed with ALS, it was overwhelming for the Strums. The clinicians, nurses, social workers, and others at the clinics tried to chop up the big problems into smaller ones, so that they could adjust and react to the symptoms.
Lonny had worked with many companies over the years, but now the only job that mattered was to be the compassionate caregiver that Beth needed. His sister-in-law, Karen, provided caregiving support. Their daughter, Carolyn, moved home during COVID to provide incredible support and their son, Carl, visited from Jersey City often to help as well. Additionally, BAYADA Home Health Care provided support on many levels and Griswold Home Care provided caregiving, as well. The healthcare professionals at the ALS clinics gave them the tools they needed along the way, along with support from The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter.
Lonny is committed to the ALS cause to honor his wife, Beth.
But Beth’s ALS progressed rapidly, and she passed away in September 2020. Lonny wanted to repay the kindness that was shown to her. The country was still struggling with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and Lonny was certain that his family would honor Beth’s memory by helping others.
Lonny made strong connections with the team at The Jefferson Weinberg ALS Center and with Association Chapter Board Chair Emeritus Ellyn Phillips. He learned that every family’s ALS story is different.
Through his engagement with the Chapter, Lonny was inspired by the Chapter’s leadership, staff, volunteers, and Board members. The Strum Family created a Named Fund to honor Beth, and raised funds for ALS care services. When Lonny learned The ALS Association’s donations directly benefited programs for families struggling with ALS, he began working with the Board on other fundraising and awareness opportunities.
When the Chapter announced that the 2022 Annual Celebration would honor Drs. Lori and Kent Griswold, Lonny volunteered his talents and expertise by contributing to the Tribute to Caregiving presentation. He solicited sponsorships and donations to make the event a success. Lonny’s efforts helped raise critical funds that will sustain the kinds of programs that Beth used during her battle with ALS. Lonny’s service to the cause is a tribute to Beth.
The Chapter is grateful to Lonny for giving of himself, and now all of us are proud to call him both our Volunteer of the Month and a friend to all in the ALS community.
Lonny was proud to moderate a special Tribute to Caregiving at the 2022 Annual Celebration.