AUGUSTA, Ga. – Patients, families, employees and friends will Beat Feet for ALS at 8 a.m. Saturday at the 9th Street Fountain at Augusta’s Riverwalk in an effort to raise money for the Augusta University ALS Clinic.
About 6,000 people are diagnosed with ALS in the U.S. each year. The Augusta University ALS Clinic cares for about 150 patients in its Augusta and Macon locations.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the late first baseman and power hitter for the New York Yankees. Gehrig was stricken with the neurodegenerative disease that causes muscular atrophy and forced into retirement at age 36. It claimed his life just two years later.
“With ALS, the muscles start to deteriorate rapidly until you are essentially trapped inside your own body, and there is no cure,” said Dr. Michael H. Rivner, Charbonnier professor of neurology at the Medical College of Georgia and ALS clinic director. “ALS is a death sentence; there is no way to sugarcoat it.”
But effects of the disease vary, and many people can live with quality in their last years with the help of nationally accredited clinics like the two operated by experts at Augusta University. The ALS team sees patients on the second Friday of each month in Augusta and the fourth Friday of each month at a satellite clinic in Macon. They assess disease progression, functional status, family concerns, and equipment, transportation and referral needs. In addition, family and caregiver training and support are incorporated into the time spent with each patient.
It could cost as much as $250,000 a year to treat just one patient with ALS, and many of the therapies and special equipment needs are not covered by health insurance. Fundraising support is critically needed to purchase wheelchair ramps, home modifications and speech and breathing assistance devices. Funds are also used to purchase gas cards and other items for patients and families who are under financial strains due to ALS.
In addition, donations are supporting several vital research efforts, including clinical trials of new ALS medications.
To register for the walk, or to simply make a donation, visit walk.ALSGRU.com or contact Kristy Bouchard, a senior research assistant in the MCG Department of Neurology, at 706-721-2681 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also make a donation by mail payable to the ALS Clinic (Fund 1078) at: Augusta University ALS Clinic, 1120 15th St., BP-4390, Augusta, GA 30912.