Letters
Letters for 05-21-2015

ALS knows no limits
With May being National ALS Awareness
month, we think of Lou Gehrig.
Gehrig played 17 seasons with the
New York Yankees before he was forced
to step away from the diamond due to an
unknown disease.
In the United States amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis, or ALS, is often called Lou
Gehrig’s disease after his struggle with
this disease and death in 1941 brought
it to national attention.
“Don’t think I am depressed or pessimistic
about my condition at present,”
Gehrig wrote following his retirement
from baseball. “I intend to hold on as
long as possible and then if the inevitable
comes, I will accept it philosophically
and hope for the best. That’s all
we can do.”
For New Orleans Saints’ fans, the
disease hit closer to home when Steve
Gleason was diagnosed with the disease
in 2011. Gleason continues to inspire others
pursuing life adventures despite his
diagnosis, and has challenged the worlds
of technology and science to identify
their most promising developments toward
new treatments and a cure.
In 2014 ALS received national attention
again with a campaign dubbed the
Ice Bucket Challenge. Raising somewhere
upwards of $100 million for the
ALS Association, the theory behind the
challenge is to dump a bucket of ice water
over one’s head that would give some
insight to what a person living with
ALS feels. The challenge was thought
to be one of the largest campaigns in
recent years that would raise money
for a cause.
Approximately 5,600 people in the
U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year.
The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000
people, and it is estimated that as many
as 30,000 Americans may be living with
ALS at any given time.
The onset of ALS often involves
muscle weakness or stiffness as early
symptoms.
Progression of weakness, wasting
and paralysis of the muscles of the
limbs and trunk as well as those that
control vital functions such as speech,
swallowing and later breathing generally
follows.
About 20 percent of people with ALS
live five years or more and up to 10 percent
will survive more than 10 years and
five percent will live 20 years. There are
people in whom ALS has stopped progressing,
and a small number of people
in whom the symptoms of ALS reversed.
ALS occurs throughout the world
with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic
boundaries and can affect anyone.
So lets use the month of May to show
our support and raise awareness for a
disease that knows no limits.