It started out of necessity, really. When it was decided—for the well-being of all involved—that we would not be gathering in Forest Park for the St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS this Saturday (June 27), our Chapter had to think about new ways to put on the event that keep the sense of community that joining together in support of those with ALS and in support of the search for a cure creates. We think we’ve created a Walk that will bring that sense of community to streets and neighborhoods throughout our region this Saturday, and we hope you’ll take part.
Among the most important parts of Walk day is the memorial banner, which lists the names of each person our Chapter served who has lost their battle with ALS and anyone who is being walked in memory of. As we won’t all be gathering together this year, we needed to find a new way to remember those who we have lost, so we created a virtual memorial banner and posted it to our Walk to Defeat ALS Facebook page.
The post resonated with many in our community, and we wanted to share it with you here as well. ALS does not stop, and neither do we. This Saturday we Walk in honor of those living with ALS and in memory of all we have lost. We hope you’ll join us.
Continue reading In Memorial—Why We Walk
We are a little bit more than a week away from the 2020 St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS, and just a couple of days away from Father’s Day as well. Because of COVID-19, both will be different than they have been in years past, but both are still important.
As you have heard, for the safety of the people with ALS we serve, their families, our staff and supporters, the 2020 St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS will not occur in Forest Park on June 27. We will still be walking to defeat ALS, but we will all be walking where it safe for all involved: down your street, in your neighborhood park, around your coffee table, just about anywhere you can think of. This year we are asking you to make the Walk your own.
And while we won’t all be gathered together physically this year, we will gather digitally. Starting at 9:45 a.m. on the Walk to Defeat ALS Facebook page, we’ll be sharing content about this year’s Walk and how all of you are still making a difference for people with ALS and their families. We want to see how you are “Walking Your Way” as well, so when you post about your Walk on social media be sure to use the #ALSWalkYourWay hashtag so we can share it with others.
Continue reading Still Walking for a World without ALS, Even in a World with COVID-19
Podcast hosts do a lot of talking. It’s kind of a job requirement. Long stretches of silence don’t tend to pull in an audience for what is a near entirely audio medium. Still, the best out there strike a balance between talking and listening—really listening—to what their guests and experts have to say. This is especially true when dealing with a topic as sensitive and serious as ALS. It is a balance that Jeremy Holden and Mike Stephenson, hosts of the Connecting ALS podcast, try to strike with each episode.
“Jeremy and I always try to stay out of the way of our guests and their stories,” says Stephenson. “We can only imagine the reality of an ALS diagnosis, so as long as we can provide a platform for members of the community to share and inspire, we hope our listeners find value in each episode.”
Continue reading Asking Questions and Really Listening to the Answers—The Connecting ALS Podcast
In the past, ALS Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill has been a frenetic affair. It almost has to be when groups of ALS Advocates from across the country descend on the Capitol with maps in hand, ready to weave the halls and go from meeting to meeting with Senators, Representatives, and staff to tell the story of people with ALS and how Congress can help. It is a fruitful, yet exhausting, day for all involved.
This year, however, the knock on a door was replaced by the ring of the phone. For the safety of all involved, people with ALS, chapter staff, and board members couldn’t travel to Washington D.C. for the day. As with much in our world today, the visits had to be done remotely.
Continue reading “This Is Where I Need to Be Right Now”—Virtual ALS Advocacy Day Still Makes an Impact on Congress
Flexibility is always a virtue when serving people with ALS. No two situations are ever the same, and no two people with ALS need exactly the same things to fight the disease. So those who care for people with ALS go into every meeting with a family facing ALS knowing there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution they’ll be able to provide. And every doctor or nurse who treats a patient with ALS knows finding the right way to meet the needs of an individual patient requires flexibility.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting the nation and our community, our Care Service team and the staff at the ALS Clinics we support did what they are used to doing: they assessed the situation, they remained flexible, and they found the best solutions possible.
Continue reading Still Finding Solutions—Care Service in the Time of COVID-19
On September 25, 2006, one year after Hurricane Katrina ravaged their home city, the New Orleans Saints took the field at the newly-reconstructed Superdome for one of the most memorable NFL games in franchise history. The team’s safety, Steve Gleason, helped secure their victory when, early in the first quarter, he blocked a punt by the Atlanta Falcons in a play that would one day be immortalized with a statue outside the stadium, a symbol of the city’s rebirth after the devastating storm.
Steve Gleason now lives with ALS and has lost much of his muscle control. The former NFL hero can no longer move or speak and needs assistance to eat and breathe. However, in Gleason’s own words, just as the city of New Orleans “had no plans of fading away quietly and disappearing,” neither does he. Gleason uses a tablet equipped with eye gaze technology and a speech generating device to communicate. The words he types with his eye movements can be selected to be spoken, emailed, and even texted. He can also do things such as pay bills, set a budget, write articles, and much more. In 2019, Gleason even helped launch a wheelchair system that can be controlled using eye gaze technology.
“This technology is life-sustaining, and it allows me to be independent and productive. In a sense, this tablet is a cure for me,” Gleason wrote in 2014, three years after his diagnosis.
Continue reading “You made me want to live.”—How Eye Gaze Technology Can Help Keep Life Fulfilling for People with ALS
We’ve all had to rethink things this spring. From work, to school, to even a quick trip to the grocery store, everything we thought of as normal or routine now requires us to think differently. Sometimes this is easy, often it is hard, but it is always different than we were used to.
It has been the same with us and the 2020 St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS. We have had to think differently about how we can bring this event to you, and we have!
For the safety of the people with ALS we serve, their families, our staff, and supporters, our 2020 St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS will not occur in Forest Park this year. Instead, we’re bringing the Walk to you!
Continue reading Walk Your Way—The 2020 Walk to Defeat ALS Will Be Everywhere
No doubt, this is a May like no other. But at the same time, the world continues, and as we mark May as ALS Awareness Month, we take this opportunity to remind our larger community what our ALS community knows all too well: that even with all the uncertainty and unrest caused by COVID-19, ALS doesn’t stop, and neither do we as we work to support our ALS community as they face new and existing challenges.
Because of the need for extreme social distancing during this pandemic, people with ALS and their caregivers have no choice but to take extraordinary precautions and isolate themselves nearly completely. This means they are at risk of losing access to services that are traditionally delivered in person at their homes or in a clinic. Our Care Service team has been working to bridge this connection gap by reaching out by phone and video conference, and by ensuring people with ALS have access to their clinic staff in whatever way makes sense for them. Even as we have been working remotely, our staff has been in constant collaboration around how to best serve our community and how we can prepare for the time when can once again gather together.
But even though we are still mostly at home, you don’t have it sit this ALS Awareness Month out. There are many way you can have an impact on our fight to end ALS.
Continue reading An ALS Awareness Month Like No Other
When Scott Lato was diagnosed with ALS on March 29 of last year, it wasn’t long before he and his family realized that certain aspects of their home had become very limiting to him—and provided additional challenges for his caregivers—as his ALS symptoms continued to progress. However, with three boys at home aged 9, 11, and 18, he and his wife Bernadette, both in their 40s, didn’t have the financial ability to suddenly transform their house.
For many families living with ALS, this situation is all too familiar. ALS does not only devastate an individual physically, it can quickly overwhelm a family financially. But would the Latos really have to choose between financial stability for their family and Scott’s ability to access basic needs in his own home?
Thanks to Jane’s Angel Fund, they did not.
Continue reading Compassion Will See Us Through—Jane’s Angel Fund Provides Financial Relief to ALS Families in Need
It seems like it was long ago, but in reality it’s only been a couple of months or so since things were “normal” for most of us. Schools were in session, most of us were actually “going” to work in person, and we were all waiting for spring to arrive.
And then everything got turned upside down. Event after event was either canceled, or postponed, or changed in some way to ensure the safety of all. We’ve all done what we needed to do.
And just like that much that was to be in-person became virtual, including the annual Jim Schoemehl 5K Run, being held this Saturday. The run will still be held—and you can still participate—but it will all be held virtually.
Continue reading A Virtual Story for a Virtual Run—How We Can Still Connect When We Are Apart