In preparation for this week’s ALS Association Advocacy Fly-In in Washington D.C., we are giving a preview of our 2017 legislative priorities. Here we focus on the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act, which was introduced last week in the Senate and United States House of Representatives (S.379/H.R.1171). Its goal is to eliminate the five-month waiting period that people living with ALS must complete prior to receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The Association whole-heartedly supports this legislation and its goals and is acting aggressively to make this legislation into a reality.
In January, CEO and President Barb Newhouse hosted a Listening Tour with Association staff leaders, BOT Chairman Doug Butcher and Bill Thoet, former BOT Chairman and current Chairman of The Association’s Research Committee.
The ALS Association’s annual Leadership Conference earlier this month brought together leaders from all 39 chapters across the country in Irvine, Calif., to share ideas and collaborate. At this year’s conference, we were pleased to honor several heroes who are living with ALS and who have provided great inspiration to all those around them.
During The ALS Association’s annual Leadership Conference in Irvine, Calif., The Association came together to honor the Barnett family, who have contributed over $11 million to The ALS Association since it was founded. Lawrence Barnett was the founding chairman of The Association. To solidify the family’s place in Association history, it was announced that the TREAT ALSTM drug development program will be named “The Lawrence and Isabel Barnett Drug Development Program.”
Over the last year and a half, The ALS Association has been working with authors from Association Chapters, ALS centers and clinics and other ALS organizations to rewrite the original Living with ALS manual series, adding new and relevant content. The series has been developed for people living with ALS, family members, caregivers and other healthcare professionals, as well as our chapter and national staff.
Evy Reviers serves as the CEO of ALS Liga, our sister organization in Belgium and is a champion in ALS patient advocacy and care. She and her organization stepped up to partner with Dr. Desain and his team that develops NoiseTag brain computer interface (BCI), who won the ALS Assistive Technology Challenge in Dublin this past December. Through this collaboration, patients in Belgium will be able to try out the NoiseTag BCI to optimize its function and usability, thereby making it the best product possible. She sat down with us to give her perspective on ALS assistive technology and care from her vast experience as a leader of a successful ALS organization and from her personal experience as caregiving daughter of her father who lives with ALS.
Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw’s unexpected diagnosis of ALS doesn’t stop him from finding hope and advocating on behalf of those faced with ALS. He has also been an incredible ally of The ALS Association in fighting this disease. Below, we’ve included a Q/A with Tim, which includes information about his new book, “Blitz Your Life.” The story, according to its author, is about “overcoming fear and living life with a purpose.”
After over a year in the making, the ALS Assistive Technology Challenge came to its culmination at the finale event during the ALS/MND International Alliance Meeting in Dublin. All five finalist teams came together to show off their prototypes to our esteemed judging team. The meeting participants living with ALS also had a chance to try out each new technology. Every finalist had an innovative idea – from brain computer interface technology to voice message banking – to help people living with ALS communicate with ease. This is extremely important to their quality of life and why the Challenge was started in the first place. Here is a photo summary of this exciting event, ending with the winners.
Deborah Silver, an accomplished vocalist and performer, has been active in the fight against ALS since 2009, when her sister was diagnosed with the disease.
My sister, Marjie Block, was diagnosed with ALS in 2009. I was by her side visiting doctor after doctor hoping to get any diagnosis other than ALS. We even prayed for Lyme Disease….anything but ALS! Ultimately, this unfortunate diagnosis stayed the same and Marjie’s courageous battle began.
As our family rallied behind her, we became determined to win this seemingly unwinnable ordeal and have committed ourselves to fighting alongside all ALS patients. My children have launched several projects to raise funds for a cure including my daughter’s website, hopeheARTbyMadison.com, so far raising over $100,000. Having always felt there is a reason for everything, perhaps this disease ended up in our family because we simply will not rest until ALS is eradicated. This is why I am always trying to come up with ideas of how to raise even more funds for a cure.
Throughout this process, I have met some of the most impressive and special people in the world who also happen to be battling ALS. My heart goes out to everyone and their families struggling with this horrendous disease.
Jordan Jhaveri is part of a family living with ALS. She was eleven when her dad, Akhil, was diagnosed in 2011. Here she gives her sixteen-year-old perspective that was recently posted on her dad’s blog recently.
As my dad’s health declines it’s gotten a lot harder to “keep on keepin’ on.” I’ve decided to share my perspective so that maybe other people can know they are not alone in their battles.
No one is truly “put together.” No one actually has everything “under control.” I am convinced that life is a big card game in which it is part chance, part strategy and planning, and we make up all the rules as we go. Even when someone seems to be completely untroubled, there is no way to know what happens behind closed doors.