ALS — a neuromuscular disease which can cause total paralysis and death within 5 years of diagnosis — often seems to come out of nowhere, striking active and athletic individuals in the prime of life.
“ALS: Anyone’s Life Story,” MDA’s special feature for National ALS Awareness Month in May, makes the broad impact of this disease abundantly clear.
“Anyone’s Life Story” tells the story of 31 Americans — one for each day of May — who are living with ALS. Now in its fourth year, the online feature will continue throughout the month to share personal stories from people across America about how ALS has changed their lives.
The first person featured this year is Glen Houston, of St. Charles, Mo., who received his ALS diagnosis seven years ago. Houston, 69, enjoys spending time with his grandsons, tinkering with his prized 1958 Corvette, watching wildlife, and visiting people newly diagnosed with ALS.
On May 2 the series featured the story of Kevin Brady, 55, of Denver, Colo., a technology buff who found a new focus for his talents after receiving an ALS diagnosis in 2007. “My computer and home automation hobbies have been very valuable,” Brady says, “as have breakthroughs such as … voice recognition software which allows me to control a computer through speaking.”
The third person featured this month is James “Tony” Blanton, 63, of Lawrenceville, Ga., a former football coach who says he considers “every day a day to be treasured” since he was diagnosed with ALS in January, 2009. Like many people with ALS, Blanton is grateful for the support he’s received from friends, family, and MDA, and he says he intends to make each day as fulfilling and meaningful as possible.
MDA also has posted a new, companion feature to “Anyone’s Life Story” called “It’s My Story Too.” This online feature welcomes anyone affected by a loved one’s ALS diagnosis — spouses, children, family, friends, caregivers, colleagues and others — to share how ALS has changed their lives as well. Testimonials can be posted through text, photo or video.