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Idaho insurance agency joins effort to help ‘PALS’

agent and daughter wear red Matt's Place shirts

October 9, 2017

Agent Meagan Shields and daughter Charlotte wear Matt's Place gear to support the cause.

Help Insurance Northwest earn an even larger donation to Matt's Place Foundation. If their story is shared on social media 50 or more times Oct 9-15, Matt's Place Foundation will receive an additional $5,000. Use the buttons above and help them reach their goal!

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease", progressively limits a person's ability to move, speak, eat and even breathe. The disease moves extremely quickly. There is no cure.

"It is very hard financially to stay ahead of the things this disease will require - home modifications, transportation, caregiving and respite support, a specialized wheelchair and more," said Matt Wild, founder of Matt's Place Foundation in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

In addition to the devastating physical and emotional damage it causes for patients and families, ALS often wreaks financial havoc as well. Care can cost over $300,000 annually - and even families with insurance may face more than $100,000 in expenses each year.

people inside home built for an ALS patient
Inside a single-family home built for the needs of the ALS patient, funded and designed by Matt's Place. This house is available for an ALS patient and their family to live, free of charge, from mid-to-late stages of the disease. From L-R Amy Faucheux, Safeco Insurance Senior Territory Manager, Mark Wild, Agent with Insurance Northwest. Matt & Theresa Wild, founders of Matt's Place Foundation, and Jeffrey Smith, President of Insurance Northwest, Inc.

The mission of the foundation is to help "PALS" - people with ALS - live in a safe environment with dignity, comfort and support. Foundation volunteers raise funds and distribute them to PALS through grants that help families cover necessities such as accessibility ramps, remodels, housing and transportation. Since its inception, the foundation has directly helped 14 families, advocated for PALS and assisted in the construction of a home designed for a patient.

Wild learned about the needs of PALS first-hand - the U.S. Marine Corps veteran was diagnosed with the disease in 2015.

While Wild knew little about ALS before his diagnosis, his brother, Mark, an agent with Insurance Northwest in Coeur d'Alene, was all too aware of the fight ahead.

"After experiencing a close family friend's battle," Mark Wild said, "I knew the physical, emotional and financial burden ALS would have on our family. But I also knew Matt would try to turn this adversity into something positive."

He was right: Matt, and his wife Theresa, were soon working with friends and family to launch Matt's Place Foundation. The first donation was $5 from a friend's 5-year-old son.

"The foundation has become a big part of who we are," Matt said. "We feel honored that we can assist others."

Mark Wild has been heavily involved from the beginning; the foundation's first president, he currently serves as executive director. He inspired Insurance Northwest to get on board, too - employees now donate and volunteer, and the company provides financial support.

charity builds wheelchair ramp for person with ALS
Matt's Place's funded the design and installation of a wheel-chair accessibility ramp for a person with ALS, allowing her to safely enter and exit her home. L-R:  Mark Wild, Agent with Insurance Northwest and Theresa & Matt Wild, Founders of Matt's Place Foundation.

A 2017 Safeco Insurance Make More Happen Award will add to that support - the honor comes with a donation of up to $10,000 to Matt's Place Foundation from Safeco on behalf of Insurance Northwest.

"The entire Insurance Northwest family has been incredibly supportive of the foundation," Matt Wild said. "We truly appreciate them."

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