By Ben Rodgers
HOWARD – Larry Peters’s life was changed forever in October 2012 when he was diagnosed with MS.
But instead of feeling sorry for himself, Peters decided he wanted to make a difference.
“I’m a very positive person, so it’s like ‘OK, Plan B, we’re going to do something about this,’” Peters said.
In the spring of 2013, he and a few friends participated in the MS Walk De Pere.
The next year, Peters joined the group and now handles yard signage promoting the event with the help of his son, David.
Dubbed Hammer by his technical college instructor in 1973, Peters was forced to retire early as a bus mechanic for the City of Green Bay due to his MS.
So Peters set up Team Hammer MS and started to raise funds every year to support the De Pere walk, which in turns supports MS research and assists people who are newly diagnosed.
The team’s running total since 2013 is more than $40,000 raised to fight MS.
“I’ve seen on the MS site, this idea for pinups and why can’t we do something a little different and make it a challenge?” he said. “Have more than one location, and part of the challenge is if you collect the most donations, you get your name put on the traveling trophy and you display it at your place of business for the year you’ve won it.”
It’s fitting that he gave this year’s trophy for the one-month contest to the Duck Creek Pub, which has played an important role in fundraising for Team Hammer.
The pub raised the most out of 13 participating businesses with $810.
Tiny footprints signifying donations ranging from $1 to $200 dotted the inside of the bar, went up the wall, and moved across the ceiling.
“I’ve known Larry for about 12 years,” said Tammy Baker, who owns the neighborhood bar with her husband, Terry. “He is one of our friends that has been affected with MS. We have another gentleman whose wife was affected by MS very severely, and another good clientele who comes in, he’s got MS.”
This year through multiple fundraisers, Peters and Team Hammer raised more than $16,000 to fight MS.
“We brought it (the trophy) home, we got it last year,” Tammy Baker said. “All my clientele, my patrons, said it’s not leaving this building and we made sure it stayed in this building.”
Duck Creek Pub also hosted a raffle for Team Hammer following the April MS walk, which raised another $6,349.
“It’s something that just tugs at our heart to help out with people to find a cure,” she said.
Team Hammer has 102 members officially listed, but Peters said it’s because of the efforts of those and those not officially on the roster that the group is successful.
“It’s like a snowball starting out small like we did in 2013, and it keeps picking up momentum,” he said.
Peters thanks Joe Morgese, Karen Rude-Pierce, Mike Klaus, Sandy and Paul Helnore, and his girlfriend, Bobbi Hampton, and anyone else who has donated money or time to the cause.
“That’s why I get up every day,” Peters said.
To stay up to date on Team Hammer’s fundraising efforts, visit Team Hammer MS on Facebook or stop by the Duck Creek Pub at 754 Riverview Dr. in Howard.