ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease, is a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurons making even the simplest movements - walking, talking, gesturing, swallowing - nearly impossible. When motor neurons die, they can no longer send messages to the muscles. This breakdown in sending nerve impulses to the muscles is what causes the weakness in the disease.
To date, no one knows what causes the death of the motor neurons in ALS or exactly how it occurs.
ALS can occur from 20-80 years of age. The most common age of onset is mid-50's. Approximately 30,000 people in the United States are living with the disease. It claims some 5,600 lives each year.
Sue's mom, Marie Alger, died of ALS in 1988. At that time, the ALS Association did not exist. There were no medical centers that specialized in the disease. She traveled 400 miles to find a medical center with the expertise to diagnosis her disease. We did what we could, with the little knowledge we had available. Mom was intelligent and well-read. With a background in library science, she knew how to get information about ALS in 1987 before there was a World Wide Web.
The yellow rose signifies joy, happiness & is used to express "remember me".
Mom was deeply religious and had faith in God. She had hope. She learned everything she could about the disease. She took time to visit each of her 6 children, to spend time with us, to talk with us, to care for us and allow us to let her lean on us, as we all faced this devastating disease with her.
Yet, there was nothing we could do to slow the progression of ALS. We were at it's mercy. She had taught us by example to face life's adversities, yet to live and enjoy life. Until it beat her. We lost her in March of 1988.
Today, the mission of the ALS Association is to promote awareness and understanding of ALS while funding research to find both a cause and a cure. It is the only national not-for-profit voluntary health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS.
The ALS Association provides compassionate, practical support to ALS patients, their families and caregivers. In Indiana, Frank's brother Steve and the family had this supportive organization helping us. Resource guides, ALS programs and services are available that are specific to ALS. The medical clinic is dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of ALS with an experienced staff including a neurologist, physical therapists, social workers, speech therapists and occupational therapists.
In Massachusetts, we have joined forces with the ALSA chapter to bring the first Walk to Defeat ALS to Pittsfield in the Berkshires.
This nationwide organization is making a difference in the lives of those fighting ALS. We ask you to help us help them by
- supporting our ALS fundraising efforts
- making a donation to help defeat ALS
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about ALS. Stay in touch by joining our email list.