Gardnerville resident brings viral sensation local
September 4, 2014
Nationwide people are dumping buckets of ice-cold water on their heads to spread awareness and encourage donations to the ALS Foundation.
Videos of this phenomenon have gone viral with local businesses participating and passing the challenge throughout the Valley.
This viral video stampede clogging the Internet has encouraged a Ranchos family to join in on the action to support a family member diagnosed with the disease.
David Lyons, 50, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Janurary.
“First I thought he had had a mini stroke,” wife of 13 years, Michele Lyons said. “He was twitching in his arms. We really didn’t know what it was or what it meant.”
David’s family practice doctor, Dr. Stephen Brown, ran tests and determined what David was experiencing was out his realm of care and referred him to Dr. John Lagios, a neurologist in Carson City.
It was Dr. Lagios who diagnosed David with ALS.
“This disease is terminal and that hits you like a ton of bricks,” Michele said. “The doctor’s diagnosis basically turned our world upside-down, like it would anyone.”
David’s disease is currently progressing slowly, but changes in his abilities are starting to show.
“We definitely see the changes in his hands and his speech,” Lyons said. “His hands have gotten to the point where he needs help putting on a belt or tying his shoes and his speech has definitely changed since the diagnosis.”
Before he was diagnosed David worked for Charter Communications for 15 years.
He resigned in July due to the disease.
“He knew he couldn’t perform his job at 100 percent anymore,” Lyons said. “He is definitely struggling with not being able to work and support his family anymore, but his spirit and attitude are good.”
ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, destroys neurons in the brain that allow for communication to happen between the brain and the muscles to help the body move.
Many people diagnosed become wheelchair bound within a few years of diagnosis.
David’s doctors are estimating he will not need a wheelchair for another two or three years.
However, the Lyons are aware of the changes a wheelchair will require for not only life, but also the Lyons’ home.
“It is all about taking care of him and keeping him comfortable,” Lyons said. “Our goal is to take care of him and keep him as comfortable as possible.”
The Lyons currently have a website for David Lyons in which donations can be made to help fund the $40,000 renovation project for their home, as well as a Facebook page in which donations can be made.
“We created this website that has gone viral since Monday, to raise money to add on to our house to make it accessible for him when the time comes,” Lyons said.
Rudy Hammond, David’s uncle, has taken on the role of head of construction on the renovation as well as taking charge of the donations.
“Uncle Rudy has been wonderful. I don’t know what we would do without him,” Lyons said. “It really means a lot. He’s taken on a huge project.”
“David is family and the diagnosis was horrible for the whole family,” Hammond said. “I wanted to make this a mission for myself. I have quite a background in commercial construction and I am able to put people together to get things done.”
The community has stepped forward financially, donating just more than $10,000 as of Wednesday, as well as volunteering their time to help with construction.
“The community seriously has been fantastic,” Lyons said. “They have stepped up to donate their time to add on to the house and certain businesses have stepped up with materials. It has made me want to cry. And I have. This community is like a family.”
David coached little league for his son for six years and friends he has made during that time have also offered their time and services.
“About 10 guys that work with a friend of David’s from little league works with AC and has offered to come donate their time at the house,” Lyons said.
The Lyons and Hammond are grateful for their donations they have gotten so far, but they still need to raise the remaining funds.
The family will be hosting an ice bucket challenge of their own 11 a.m.-2 pm. Sept. 13 in Lampe Park at the Gazebo.
“The Charter employees have been great through the whole thing and we are going to challenge the Charter employees to be there and participate,” Hammond said.
The family encourages anyone to come out Sept. 13 visit and meet a local to help make the viral awareness of ALS easier to connect with.
“No one has to dump water on their heads or even donate, we just want people to come out and say hi,” Lyons said.
The Lyons have three children, Steven, 11, Sarah, 9 and Ashley, 7, all who attend Scarselli Elementary School.
The Carson Medical Group in Carson City completed an ice bucket challenge Wednesday in honor of David Lyons.