East Tennesseans raising money to defeat ALS

ALS Association Tennessee Chapter has set a date for its annual Walk to Defeat ALS in Knoxville.
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 3:05 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It is a deadly disease, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease in memory of the late baseball player who was forced to retire in 1939 after his diagnosis.

ALS causes a person’s brain to lose connection with the muscles, which causes them to lose their ability to chew, walk, talk and eventually breath, according to the ALS Tennessee Chapter.

There is no cure or treatment to reverse the damage done by ALS. The Tennessee chapter of the ALS Association has hopes to change that by hosting its annual Walk to End ALS on October 2.

Alice Sullivan, manager of donor relations and special events said to protect families and people suffering from the disease, the event will be hosted wherever people choose to walk.

“Obviously this disease can be you know, it’s hard to talk about it’s not fun to talk about by any means and so this is kind of like that one opportunity where let’s celebrate let’s come together Let’s rally behind and show support,” said Sullivan.

About 5 to 10 percent of all ALS cases are familial, which means that an individual inherits the disease from a parent, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Most people diagnosed with the disease develop symptoms between 55-75 years old.

“It’s important the funds are important and the awareness as well that comes from it that really drives this event, and, you know, in the end, impacts our families impacts people that may not know their diagnosis, or maybe they’re having symptoms, Or maybe they have a friend that’s recently been diagnosed. So altogether this event is. Most importantly, a way for us to rally around our clients and those living with ALS, especially during the pandemic, considering how isolating it’s been how a lot of these individuals have had to stay at home, more so than they even did before,” added Sullivan.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports early symptoms of ALS to include:

  • Muscle twitches in the arm, leg, shoulder, or tongue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tight and stiff muscles (spasticity)
  • Muscle weakness affecting an arm, a leg, the neck, or diaphragm
  • Slurred and nasal speech
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

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