After last summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge, which was intended to raise funds for and awareness about ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — you may be wondering what else you can do to help the cause. Well, you’re in luck, because May is ALS Awareness Month.
An incurable, degenerative disease of the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord, the ALS Association said that about 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS every year, and at any given time about 30,000 people in the U.S. suffer from the disease.
One of those people was Ben Mahmoud — father of Motivo co-founder Jeremy Knopow — who succumbed to the disease in 2009. It was observing his father’s need for a walker as the illness progressed that inspired Jeremy to begin work on the Motivo Tour.
One of the more famous individuals suffering from ALS is Stephen Hawking. The 74-year-old physicist was diagnosed when he was only 21, which brings up an interesting point: ALS does not discriminate based upon age. While most sufferers are diagnosed between 40 and 70 years of age, according to the ALS Association, younger and older people can also contract the disease. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, ALS strikes seemingly at random.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, which in 2014 raised $115 million — of which $77 million went to ALS research — and generated participation from the likes of President Barack Obama, is only one way you can help raise awareness about this disease and encourage donations that can help find a cure. You can participate in one of the ALS Association’s Walk to Defeat ALS. These events are available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. My home state of Wisconsin has five such walks scheduled in various cities from May through October.
If you’re more athletic than the average person, you might consider participating in Team Challenge ALS. These physical endurance programs — from marathons to cycling events to winter sports — are a great way to participate in sports you love while raising money and awareness for ALS.
You can also help just by donating your time. The ALS Association — both on a national level and through its local chapters — is always looking for volunteers. Whether it be in your local chapter office, at an area event or on a planning committee, your donation of time and effort will help the ALS Association continue its mission of driving awareness, and thus driving a cure.
The long and short of it? Don’t wait for the next Ice Bucket Challenge — which the ALS Association said will happen every August until a cure is found — to do something to help drive awareness of ALS. Jeremy Knopow does it every day by developing and promoting the Motivo Tour, in memory of his late father. You can do it for your friends, family and neighbors suffering from ALS and hoping one day a cure will be found.
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
ALS Association: www.alsa.org