Over the weekend, we spent a few days with Tanner Hockensmith, Executive Director of The ALS Association Texas Chapter, as he and his team were setting up their supply staging facility in Houston and visiting families in need. At the time, they had reached out to all of the people with ALS in the areas affected by Harvey, and managed to connect with most of them.
The Texas Chapter’s care closet in Houston was flooded, so, Partner RQ Solutions opened their warehouse to serve as a staging facility to store much-needed medical and respiratory equipment, nutritional supplies, and personal care items for people with ALS. Tanner and his team packed these supplies into a trailer in Dallas before making the 3.5 hour drive to Houston.
Thanks to the work of staff, volunteers, partners, and board members, the supplies were quickly unloaded and the real work began. Throughout it all, Tanner was in constant contact with his staff and kept a running list of people in need.
The next step was delivering critical supplies, given that many people with ALS were still in their homes, as opposed to shelters. A natural disaster is even more challenging for people living with ALS. Shelters can be difficult for them. In addition to the increased risk of infection, the unique needs of an ALS patient can’t be always be met in a shelter.
Our first visit was to Larrilynn Jones. Diagnosed in 2016, Larrilynn and her three teenage boys sheltered in place. Though they were spared damage from the hurricane, she was running dangerously low on supplies, and needed supplemental nutrition to take her medication. We were able to assist her with needed supplies and equipment. (Read her story here.)
The road to recovery will be long for many in the Harvey-affected areas. Our ALS Association Disaster Relief Fund was established to ensure that people living with ALS and their families in these areas will continue to have access to chapter services and programs as they begin rebuilding their lives following the devastation of this horrible natural disaster.
Please consider donating today. For the time being, all individual donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America.