SCHERERVILLE|The owners of Albert's Diamond Jewelers are receiving national accolades for their battle against multiple sclerosis.
The Halpern family has contributed more than $500,000 to research toward a cure through their personal giving and Albert's annual MS auction.
Donna Halpern, one of the owners, has MS. Her husband Fred, who bought Albert's Diamond Jewelers in 1960, started the annual fundraiser, which is now in its 10th year.
The family has been involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for more than two decades, and will soon be inducted into its Volunteer Hall of Fame. Fred and Donna Halpern, their son and daughter-in-law Joshua and Ashley Halpern, and Fred's brother Charlie Halpern will be recognized for their ongoing fundraising efforts.
"Multiple sclerosis has personally affected my family," said Joshua Halpern. "Beyond that, so many good people right here in Northwest Indiana are afflicted with this terrible disease. If that isn't a reason to fight, I don't know what is."
For the last 53 years, the Halperns have owned Albert's, which has grown from a tiny storefront in East Chicago to one of the largest family-owned jewelers in the country, with more than 30,000 square feet of retail space in Schererville and the Westfield Southlake Mall in Hobart.
The family got involved with the National MS Society after Donna Halpern was diagnosed with the chronic, often disabling disease that afflicts the central nervous system. For the last decade, the family has held an annual fundraising auction that features hundreds of pieces of jewelery, Chicago sports memorabilia and other items.
"In addition to their Albert's Auction, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for MS research, the Halperns have helped build MS awareness throughout their community by making a monetary donation to the society in lieu of flowers when a community member passes away," said Leigh Ann Erickson, president of the Indiana state chapter. "They also help cultivate Walk MS participants by providing $50 Albert's gift cards to the nearly 700 participants of Walk MS: Northwest, and also facilitated media coverage to ultimately bring others to the MS cause. It is through the dedication and passion of individuals like the Halperns that we have hope for a cure."
Albert's 10th annual MS auction is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. Sunday at the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond.