Challenge Me to Live Life to the Fullest

How I Embrace the ALS “Challenge Me” Campaign

By Noel Levasseur
Person living with ALS

Five years ago, I joined millions of people around the world and took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The Challenge took America by storm and fueled the biggest social media movement in history. At least 17 million people uploaded videos to Facebook to raise awareness and donate to ALS research, and over $115 million was raised for The ALS Association. 

At the time, many of us who took the Challenge knew little about ALS, myself included. I personally had no idea, other than Lou Gerhig had died from it. We also had no idea about the challenge ALS had in store for us. 

Three years after taking the Ice Bucket Challenge, in November of 2017, I was diagnosed with ALS. My life was forever changed. Trust me when I tell you, an ALS diagnosis changes everything in the blink of an eye. Every day moving forward, I would now face the biggest fight of my and my family’s life! A cruel disease with no cure… ALS. 

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CNN Shines Light on “Iron Horse Tour” of MLB Ballparks

Today, CNN featured a profile on Larry Falivena, a person living with ALS since 2017. Larry is visiting all 30 Major League Baseball parks in one season to raise awareness of ALS as part of The ALS Association’s Challenge Me campaign. He began his “Iron Horse tour” on May 30.

“If my time is truly limited, I want to use it the best way possible,” Larry said in his CNN interview. “So, the two thoughts in my head were: I want to do something with my family, and I want to do something that’s going to have an impact against ALS.”

Continue reading CNN Shines Light on “Iron Horse Tour” of MLB Ballparks

What People With ALS Want You to Know About ALS

Challenge Me to Educate the World About ALS

We launched the Challenge Me campaign last week. Challenge Me picks up where the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge left off. This time, we are challenging the world to do anything and everything they can to help end ALS.

“Challenge Me” is a concept well known to people living with ALS who face an insidious foe every single day. Pat Quinn, who co-founded the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with Pete Frates in 2014, talks about affirming his readiness to take on whatever ALS may throw at him that day. He says “Challenge Me” captures the spirit and determination of people with ALS.

We asked some other folks in the ALS community what they want you to know about ALS. Here is what they said.

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Meet Jorge Gomez-Deza: A 2018 Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellow

Our Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship Program continues to support young scientists and is the only program of its kind specifically funding early ALS postdoctoral fellows.

The awards were founded in memory of Mr. Safenowitz by the Safenowitz family – through The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter. The program encourages young scientists to enter and, importantly, to remain in the ALS field.

We are proud that 76 percent of the postdoctoral fellows we fund go on to start their own labs to continue studying ALS and mentor other young ALS researchers. The rest of our Safenowitz fellowship program graduates go on to careers in the biomedical industry, nonprofits, and medical writing, with many still staying in the ALS space.

This year, we are supporting five new postdoctoral fellows out of a highly competitive applicant pool. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight each fellow – their dedication and unique contributions to ALS research, as well as their interests outside of the lab.

We recently talked with Dr. Jorge Gomez-Deza with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) to learn about his unique research project, which has the ultimate goal of identifying a druggable target that prevents neuronal death.

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New Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund Helps Students Financially Impacted by ALS Pursue Higher Education

The ALS Association is pleased to announce a new scholarship program that will fund up to $5,000 per year for at least 30 students whose personal or family finances are compromised by the financial burden of ALS.

The Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund was established by Mark Calmes, vice chair of The ALS Association’s National Board of Trustees. The scholarship fund is named in honor of his late wife, Jane, who fought ALS for eight years and passed away in August 2017.

“Jane amazed me every day,” Mark says. “She was a fighter who battled three illnesses in a row – a silent heart attack, breast cancer, and then ALS. After she died, I began to think of ways to honor her courageous spirit and compassion. The idea of a scholarship program resonated with me because Jane was always keen on the lifelong benefits provided by education.”

Continue reading New Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund Helps Students Financially Impacted by ALS Pursue Higher Education

Meet Andrei Ursu: A 2018 Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellow

Our Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship Program continues to support young scientists and is the only program of its kind specifically funding early ALS postdoctoral fellows.

The awards were founded in memory of Mr. Safenowitz by the Safenowitz family – through The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter. The program encourages young scientists to enter and, importantly, to remain in the ALS field.

We are proud that 76 percent of the postdoctoral fellows we fund go on to start their own labs to continue studying ALS and mentor other young ALS researchers. The rest of our Safenowitz fellowship program graduates go on to careers in the biomedical industry, nonprofits, and medical writing, with many still staying in the ALS space.

This year, we are supporting five new postdoctoral fellows out of a highly competitive applicant pool. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight each fellow – their dedication and unique contributions to ALS research, as well as their interests outside of the lab.

We recently talked with Dr. Andrei Ursu from The Scripps Research Institute (Florida Campus) to learn about his unique research project focused on targeting the most common form of genetically inherited ALS, known as c9ALS, with rationally designed lead medicines.

Continue reading Meet Andrei Ursu: A 2018 Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellow

Meet Alyssa Coyne: A 2018 Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellow

Our Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship Program continues to support young scientists and is the only program of its kind specifically funding early ALS postdoctoral fellows.

The awards were founded in memory of Mr. Safenowitz by the Safenowitz family – through The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter. The program encourages young scientists to enter and, importantly, to remain in the ALS field.

We are proud that 76 percent of the postdoctoral fellows we fund go on to start their own labs to continue studying ALS and mentor other young ALS researchers. The rest of our Safenowitz fellowship program graduates go on to careers in the biomedical industry, nonprofits, and medical writing, with many still staying in the ALS space.

This year, we are supporting five new postdoctoral fellows out of a highly competitive applicant pool. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight each fellow – their dedication and unique contributions to ALS research, as well as their interests outside of the lab.

We recently talked with Dr. Alyssa Coyne from Johns Hopkins University to learn about her unique research project focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the most common form of familial ALS.

Continue reading Meet Alyssa Coyne: A 2018 Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellow