Help fellow Iowans fight the battle with ALS

Each year, around 60 Iowans are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and given just two to five years to live. Selflessly, many of them spend their remaining time raising awareness and generating support to help find a cure for future patients. During ALS Awareness Month this May, The ALS Association, Iowa Chapter is asking you to celebrate the lives of fellow Iowans with ALS and join their cause to help fight the disease.

A friend from work or your child’s favorite teacher – someone who significantly touches your life – could someday be faced with this fatal disease. Although ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, generally affects people between ages 40 and 70, it can happen to anyone at any age and many younger Iowans are now living numbered days. For an unknown reason, military veterans are twice as likely to develop the disease.

A progressive neurodegenerative disorder with no known cause or cure, ALS destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the disease progresses, patients lose their ability to walk, talk, swallow and to breathe on their own. People with ALS lose the ability to control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis. In most cases, ALS patients’ minds are unaffected, so they are able to understand and think just as they were before their diagnosis.

As the executive director of the ALS Iowa chapter, I witness every day how devastatingly painful ALS can be for Iowans with friends and family members living with the rapidly developing disease. And although there is no cure, significant advances in ALS research during the past several years continue to keep us hopeful.

At the Iowa Chapter of The ALS Association, we are leading the fight to treat the disease, while also empowering Iowans with ALS and their families to live fuller lives by providing compassionate care and support. Many of our programs and events give Iowans the opportunity to get involved and help bring further hope to the Iowa ALS community.

Every year, thousands of Iowans from across the state bring their determination and passion together at four Walk to Defeat ALS events, located in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, the Quad Cities and Sioux City. The walks help raise support for research to find a cure and to provide local programs and services to Iowans with ALS and their caregivers.

The ALS Association provides direct care to a person with ALS and his or her family. ALS programs here in Iowa provide caregiver respite care, home visits, monthly support groups, equipment loans, family mentors, communication and assistive technology, transportation and emergency assistance.

Get involved in the fight to defeat ALS by joining a walk in your area, volunteering to help a person living with ALS or by simply telling a friend about the disease. Visit for more information.

Tanner Hockensmith is the executive director of The ALS Association, Iowa Chapter.