What is ALS? Aside from being the reason so many of us dumped (or had dumped on us) a bucket of ice last August, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS for short) is a rapid neurodegenerative disease where various nerve cells die and leave muscles immobilized, a process which leads to death. There is no known cause or cure, currently 2,500-3,000 Canadians over 18 are living with ALS, with 90% of individuals diagnosed dying in 5 years or less. Their quality of life is drastically affected as they lose the ability to move, speak, swallow, and eventually even breathe. The mission of the ALS Society of Alberta is to make each day the best possible for people living with and affected by ALS; they do this by providing support, facilitating the provision of care, promoting awareness, and helping find a cure. The Society provides client support services throughout the province through home visits, support groups, the equipment loan program and support for children through the Support for Champions program. An ALS diagnosis can cost a family up to $250,000, and the Society aims to ease this stress by providing equipment free of charge. They also make significant contributions to the national ALS research program.
The current challenge before the medical community is to be able to correctly identify and diagnose the disease in the early stages so organizations like the ALS Society of Alberta can provide the maximum level of assistance to people living with and affected by the disease. I’m lucky enough to be onboarding the ALS Society of Alberta as an F12 Cloud & F12 Hosted Exchange client, allowing their members to better coordinate, communicate, and in turn provide more effective care and support to their clients and families affected by this devastating disease.
This month was the one-year anniversary of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, an activity which involved the dumping of a bucket of ice water on someone’s head to promote awareness of the disease and raise funds, which went viral in 2014 and raised $17 million for ALS Canada ($2.8m in Alberta alone). With this boost in funding last year the ALS Society of Alberta was able to respond to every single request for support in the province, and allowed ALS Canada to accelerate the national research program. They are now trying to make it an annual event with the theme: “Every August Until a Cure”. For more information about ALS, and the ALS Society of Alberta, visit www.alsab.ca.
Coordinator of Events and Special Projects at ALS Society of Alberta