NBC 5 Responds: Suburban Teen's Fundraiser for Medical Research Hits Obstacle

A suburban teenager raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s research said a recent fundraising effort hit a roadblock after a participating restaurant stopped returning her phone calls.

Alicia Amsel of Northbrook said she shares a special bond with her grandmother, who is now living with Alzheimer’s disease. 

The Alzeimer’s Association website said Alzeimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.  Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

“After my grandmother was diagnosed, I wanted to help her because she’s always been a big advocate for other people and she would have done the same thing for anybody else that she knew,” Amsel said.

Amsel said her grandmother, whom she calls Nana, can no longer walk or spend quality time with friends and family.

“To see her just so frail weak now, it’s just very difficult for me,” Amsel said.

But Amsel is making it a mission to raise money and support for the Alzheimer’s Association.  She helped raise about $5,000 for a Walk to End Alzheimer’s event in Glenview in September.

The team name for the event:  Nana’s Ninjas.

“She’s just very driven to be able to do something for finding a cure,” said Amsel’s mother, Aida Giglio.

Amsel also arranged for a suburban Potbelly restaurant to donate 25% of its proceeds between 5pm and 8pm on September 12 to the Alzheimer’s Association.  She said she was told by the restaurant that a check would be sent within 30 days.

Amsel said after forty-five days, however, she had not received any updates from the restaurant manager.

“I kept calling and she never returned my calls or emails and then ultimately I had found out that she no longer worked there,” Amsel said.

NBC 5 Responds contacted Potbelly’s corporate office.  A spokesperson said a data entry error and personnel changes had caused the delay.The restaurant company then doubled its donation to the Alzheimer’s Association to $348.

Amsel said a Potbelly representative called her to apologize. Amsel also told NBC 5 Responds her Nana would be really happy.

“She’s the type of person who doesn’t say a lot, but you could just tell on her face when she’s happy about something,” Amsel said.

A spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Association said Amsel went above and beyond to help the organization reach its goal.

“It's so encouraging to see people of all ages join in the fight against Alzheimer's,” the spokesperson said.  “Young adults like Alicia are leading the way for the next generation to get involved, and it's because of her hard work and dedication that we are one step closer to a cure.”

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