WaySpa Gives Back: The ALS Society of Canada
ALS: Three letters that change people’s lives. FOREVER.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. People living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. The senses are unimpaired and the intellect may remain unaffected. ALS is not contagious, and it can strike anyone, male or female, of any ethnic origin and of any age. Usual onset is in middle-age, though some have been diagnosed as teens.
Approximately 2,500 – 3,000 Canadians over 18 years of age currently live with ALS. Less than 10 per cent of cases of ALS are hereditary, while the other 90 per cent are sporadic. The cause of ALS is unknown, and there is no effective treatment or cure yet. Eighty per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of diagnosis – unable to breathe or swallow. Ten per cent of those affected may live for 10 years or longer. The incidence of new diagnoses is estimated to be two out of 100,000 per year, the same as the mortality rate for ALS. Every day two or three Canadians die of the disease. ALS is the most common cause of neurological death in Canada.
ALS affects the whole family. People with ALS require costly equipment and care. Ninety per cent of the burden of care for people living with ALS is shouldered by family members. The disease drains caregivers physically, emotionally and financially.
The ALS Society of Canada was founded in 1977 as a national voluntary health organization. ALS Canada funds research towards a cure for ALS and supports its provincial partners in the provision of quality care for those living with ALS. Its vision is to find a cure for this devastating disease. ALS Canada is located in Markham, Ontario, and there are provincial ALS Societies in every province. Provincial ALS Societies provide information, referrals, advocacy on behalf of people with ALS, care and assistance, support for caregivers and equipment for people living with ALS.
June is ALS Awareness Month. During the month, ALS Canada and the provincial ALS Societies work together to raise awareness of ALS and to raise funds for research and support services.
What can you do before June? It doesn’t have to be ALS Awareness Month for people to contribute to raising awareness of this devastating disease or do something to help. Across Canada many individuals and organizations generously give their time to create and host fundraising events and activities to raise money in support of the ALS Canada. If you would like to host your own event, please contact Enzo Raponi, director of development, ALS Canada, at email@example.com or 905-248-2052 (toll free 1-800-267-4257) ext 205 or visit www.als.ca/howtohelp.
Check back next week for the next installment of Wayspa Gives Back: The ALS Society of Canada