Listening to Learn—ALS Association Community Survey Results

The Dali Lama once remarked: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” In that spirit, the national ALS Association undertook a community survey in early 2019 to hear from the community about programs and services that people consider important, reasons why people were not accessing some programs, major challenges, and issues around medications. In listening to the community about their realities, the ALS Association is better able to incorporate real world information in to care services planning activities and to inform priority setting, program outcomes, and program improvements.

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Running and Walking for the Cause—and Pie

First the obvious: You could do worse for a Saturday morning than a scenic run or walk through Kimmswick, Missouri. But that’s not the only reason the quaint, tree-lined streets along the Mississippi River will be busy this Saturday morning. As it has since 2011, a community will gather together in support of and in memory of one of their own. And as in 2011 and every year since, it has continued to help support those with ALS and in the search for new treatments, and a cure.

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Lou Gehrig’s Speech—80 Years Later

The story itself is known to even the casual baseball fan: one of the game’s best ballplayers who had played more games in a row than anyone else, ever, got sick with a fatal disease that forced him to retire from the game he loved. When he retired he gave an eloquent, moving speech. Soon thereafter people started referring to the disease he had by his name: Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

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Unlocking ALS—One Step at a Time

The Walk to Defeat ALS® is a colorful event. Team t-shirts from nearly every color of the rainbow dot the landscape, along with hats, shoes, signs. Color is everywhere.

But returning this year along the route, there will be an additional pop of color—a pop of color with a purpose. In 2018 The ALS Association launched Unlock ALS at Walk events to provide participants with a tangible way to recognize the real reasons they Walk to Defeat ALS. At the walks, participants select a lanyard in one of four colors to represent their connection to ALS. These colors represent:

  • Yellow: I have ALS
  • Blue: I Walk in Honor of Someone with ALS
  • White: I’ve Lost Someone to ALS
  • Red: I Support the Cause and Want to Defeat ALS
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You Are Part of Finding a Cure for ALS—By Being an Advocate

The role we can play as individuals in finding new treatments—and a cure—for ALS can seem small. Most of us aren’t world class medical researchers. Most of us don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to donate to funding those doing that research. Our role in fighting ALS seems minor by comparison, but it isn’t. By adding our voices to the chorus of voices advocating for people with ALS we can—and do—play an important part of the fight for a cure.

As we continue with ALS Awareness Month, we wanted to look at ALS advocacy and explore what is being done, what can be accomplished, and what you can do.

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This is What ALS Looks Like

For the general public, ALS might bring some specific images to mind. Many might think of grainy black and white newsreel footage of Lou Gehrig standing in Yankee Stadium. Others might picture the same scene but replace the actual Gehrig with Gary Cooper from the movie Pride of the Yankees. Still others might picture—and hear—Stephen Hawking and his computer-generated voice. More recently, Steve Gleason has become what many think of when they think “this is what ALS looks like.”

But for those living with ALS and those caring for them, the disease isn’t embodied by a famous person, present or past. ALS looks like a kitchen reconfigured to allow for a power wheelchair at the table. It sounds like a ventilator or the hum of other medical devices. It feels like grips on silverware or textured plastic cups.

As we begin May and ALS Awareness Month, we want to explore what ALS looks, feels and sounds like for those with ALS and their families. As these families know, the progression of the disease means near constant change—some that can be planned for, and some that can’t.

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Walking Together: Walk to Defeat ALS Committee Members Walk for Many Reasons

As the days grow longer and warmer, we in the Midwest turn out thoughts to summer. And with summer comes the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter Walks to Defeat ALS®. The Springfield, Illinois, Walk is June 15 in in Southwind Park. The St. Louis Walk is June 22 in Forest Park.

These walks would be not be possible without the work of the Walk Committees. Committee members are involved as participants and behind the scenes, playing an integral role in the success of the events. The committees assist in booking vendors, securing in-kind donations, supporting team captains, recruiting volunteers and assisting with the planning of the events.

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