MARION - First Southern Bank CEO Ray Altmix was the toast of the town Saturday night in St. Louis when he was recognized by the Arthritis Foundation for extraordinary fundraising work done earlier this year.
The Marion businessman was the 2017 Corporate Honoree of the Year for AF. He was instrumental in raising 140 percent more funds at the annual arthritis walk last April at Rent One Park in Marion than the previous year, totaling a stunning $57,800. More than half the amount raised was due to personal contacts of Altmix, who himself suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.
"It's truly an honor to receive this award," Altmix said. "However, this is not the first time that I've received a little more credit than I deserve.
"We had a great group of volunteers and some very significant contributions from the Southern Illinois business community," Altmix said. "Cheri Fitts, the Executive Director for the Arthritis Foundation in this part of the country, did most of the heavy lifting that made for a successful fundraiser."
Altmix said there is a significant gap between the need and the funds available. Increasing the fundraising will, hopefully, he said, have a direct impact on the adults, and even more importantly, the children who suffer from some of these diseases that there is no known cure.
"Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA ,is an autoimmune disease for which there is no known cure," Altmix said. "Treatments include weekly low-dose chemotherapy, steroids and some newer medicines called biologics. None of these can reverse the damage to one's joints and organs that RA causes every day.
"Treatments are kind of trial and error, which is not so bad for people my age. However, children as young as 18 months are being diagnosed every day with these same autoimmune diseases and they will receive the same hit or miss treatment until the doctors find something that will work. The children deserve better, so we have to do more."
Fitts, who also resides in Marion, said Altmix was indeed deserving of the recognition.
"He totally revived our fundraising efforts in regard to the Arthritis Foundation walk," she said. "He brought new blood to the event and great fundraising ideas. He more than doubled what we took in the previous year, so yes, he is deserving."
Fitts said a committee is now forming for next April's walk for the cure at Rent One Park. She said she is seeking new committee members. For more information, contact Fitts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Altmix's award was presented to him Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton, Mo. as part of the 37th Annual Silver Ball gala.