Do you think one person really can make a difference?
When we first heard about Steve Gleason, we were truly inspired by his positive attitude amid his terminal illness. The legendary New Orleans Saints football player has been living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease over the past three years.
Well known for his blocked punt in a 2006 game that became a symbol of recovery in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Steve revealed in 2011 that he was diagnosed with ALS.
Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Basically, it’s a death sentence.
I am all too well acquainted with this degenerative disease that traps a person’s mind and soul into a motionless body — my own father died of ALS at the age of 54.
While Steve continues to inspire all of us, he’s taking his message one step further. Speaking through adaptive software, Steve is calling for a cure to this deadly disease.
“As big as ALS is, with enough support and a large scale unified collaboration, we believe that ALS can be solved,” Steve tells WWLTV.
Through his foundation, Team Gleason, Steve is starting Answer ALS — a council of patients, caregivers, doctors, researcher scientists, and pharmaceutical companies to find new therapies for treatment, like using stem cells, and coordinate the search for a cure.
But they are going to need funding — and we’re talking big bucks.
“Our goal is to secure a minimum of $125 million annually for five years,” says Team Gleason Executive Director Paul Varisco. “We are appealing to large investors, Fortune 500 leaders, and the world’s wealthiest individuals to be part of ridding the world of ALS,” adds Gleason.
I’m no expert, but this sounds like a much needed movement.
Oddly enough, my husband is a research scientist and has worked on the cure for the ebola virus, cancer and many other serious illnesses. He says that cures for deadly diseases is out there, but the funding is seriously lacking.
To put things in perspective, according to the Huffington Post the annual U.S. federal budget for cancer research has been approximately $4.9 billion over the past six years. Meanwhile, every year in the U.S. citizens spend $11.8 billion purchasing bottled water, $15.4 billion on video games and $21.5 billion on pet food.
And according to this chart, cancer research gets way more funding than ALS.
Bottom line is that more research money is needed for the deadly diseases that are killing our loved ones. While I don’t have the funds, I do have an audience and platform to help spread the word. I’ve always said that I want to be part of the cure for ALS, and perhaps this is the beginning.
It’s time for conservative governments to swallow their rigid beliefs on stem cell research and provide much needed funding. Until then, it’s going to be strong voices like Steve’s to raise money and awareness for the cure.
Please help spread the word for Steve, ALS, and many other neurodegenerative diseases like MS, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. The cure is out there, but awareness and money is badly needed.