In our continued quest to raise funds for ALS research, our planning committee has come across many amazing people. Many of these people have dedicated countless hours to raising funds or awareness of ALS. The more we discussed our experiences, the more the need arose to recognize these individuals for their work in the ALS community. Shortly thereafter, the Ben Byer ALS Awareness Award was born.

A fellow Chicagoan, Ben Byer was born in 1971 and graduated from Evanston Township High School. He studied Journalism at Indiana University, and Film Theory at The University of Paris. Ben’s passion for film and acting lended him to many experiences and finally landed him back at home – Sweet Home Chicago. Ben performed on many significant stages in Chicago before he was diagnosed with ALS in 2002 at the age of 31.

Following Ben’s diagnosis, he turned his attention towards directing with his sister, Rebeccah Rush. Together they co-founded the ALS Film Fund in 2003 and began documenting Ben’s journey with ALS. The result was Indestructible, an award winning film following of Ben’s life with ALS. Indestructible provides an inside look at how ALS affects one man’s life, in turn affecting his friends, family and countless others around the world. For those of you who have ALS or know someone with ALS, it is all too familiar. For those of you unfamiliar with this disease, it will provide you great insight. Either way, it is the real deal with ALS and has brought great awareness to the disease.

Ben passed away from complications of ALS on July 3rd, 2008. His family continues the fight that he started, with his sister Rebeccah continuing to promote the film and awareness of ALS, and his father Stephen taking on patient advocacy. Ben left behind family and many friends, but he also left his legacy in Indestructible.

We find it only appropriate to have Ben’s name live on in the cause that he was so passionate about. The Ben Byer ALS Awareness Award is presented annually to an individual or organization for their contributions to finding a treatment and ultimately a cure for ALS by raising awareness or funds.

For more information about Ben’s film, Indestructible, please visit

For more information about the Ben Byer ALS Awareness Award or to nominate someone for next year’s award, please contact Amanda Konopka at or 630-598-0700.

Previous Award Recipients:
2009 – Inaugural Award: Ben Byer
2010 – The University of Illinois-Chicago MDA Clinic Team
2011 – Anne Marie Schlekeway
2012 – Bally Total Fitness
2013 – The Payne Family
2014 – Chris and Denise Benyo
2015 – Mesirow Financial
2016 – Ray & Rae Spooner
2017 – Richard “Ratt” Kennedy
2018 – Sophia Spooner and Yoni Segev