You’d be forgiven by most if you admitted you can’t keep up. There are awareness months, weeks or days for so many things. It’s not that it is a bad thing, it’s just that it is it so much. And yet here we are again, reminding you that May is ALS Awareness Month. Why?
And honestly, if you are a regular visitor here, you don’t really need reminding. As a part of the ALS community you are well aware of the challenges of this horrible disease. You are aware of the progress in research being made even as we all wish it would move faster. You are aware of the funding ALS advocates have been able to secure even as we all wish it could be more.
Still, ALS is categorized as a rare disease, and for a large portion of the overall population, ALS isn’t something that crosses the mind very often. Sure, they probably know about Lou Gehrig and “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” and they probably remember the Ice Bucket Challenge and what a wild ride that was. But other than that? Like we said, it’s hard to keep up.
So it as much to remind the world as to remind ourselves that each May we work to shine a light on all people with ALS, and all the people who are working every day to find treatments, and a cure. To remind everyone that of the more than 140 active research projects around the world. To remind everyone that thanks to more than 40,000 ALS advocates, we secured millions in additional federal dollars to support that research, veterans with ALS, and to empower people with ALS to live life to the fullest.
And to remind everyone that it takes everyone, everywhere, playing their role to help us make this progress, including people right here in our region. People like Mark Calmes and Dr. Timothy Miller, who were recently honored for their efforts with Awards of Recognition as part of the first annual Target ALS Rebecca Luker Courage Award series presented in partnership with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America, which recognizes ALS groundbreakers among researchers, philanthropists, and patients.
A member of the ALS Association’s national Board of Trustees, as well as a board member of the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter, Mark Calmes believes that philanthropy is an “investment of heart and soul into advocacy for people and causes that truly make a difference.” He honors his late wife, who died after a long battle with ALS, with innovative programs like the Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to students whose families are burdened by the disease, and local through Jane’s Angel Fund, part of the Family of Angel Funds grant program.
One of the nation’s foremost researchers into neurodegenerative diseases for more than two decades, Dr. Timothy Miller is searching for better ways to treat, prevent and cure ALS. Dr. Miller is the “driving force” behind the ALS Center at the Washington University School of Medicine, where he is also a professor of neurology. Dr. Miller has continued to mentor and train physician-scientists to treat ALS. In fact, he frequently says his goal “is to get everyone I talk to interested in studying ALS.” This has led to multiple collaborations within academia and industry partners.
But while we shine a light on people like Mark Calmes and Dr. Miller for their contributions to the fight to end ALS, we also acknowledge everyone in the ALS community who in their own unique way works to raise awareness and make a difference in the lives of people with ALS. Because it takes all of us, doing whatever it takes, to end this disease. It takes advocates to support our mission. It takes healthcare professionals, researchers, clinicians, and scientists to provide critical care and find a cure. And it takes volunteers, donors and our communities to help us fight. So during this ALS Awareness Month, we say thank you for being a part of the fight with us.