Movie highlighted struggle with ALS |

Movie highlighted struggle with ALS

CHARLENE HOLLINGSWORTH, Volunteer, Northern Nevada District, Muscular Dystrophy Association

It’s heartening that two outstanding actors, Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria, starred in ABC-TV’s Dec. 5 made-for-television movie “Tuesdays with Morrie,” based on Mitch Albom’s touching best-selling account of the life lessons he learned from college professor and mentor, Morrie Schwartz. Schwartz taught not just by word but by example as he bravely fought the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the disease that would eventually steal his life.

The airing of this inspirational story should help rally public support for the fight against ALS, the devastating and inexorably fatal neuromuscular disease that the Muscular Dystrophy Association has targeted for decades.

Since the 1950s when the widow of Lou Gehrig, another celebrated American who died of ALS, became MDA’s national campaign chairperson, MDA has been the world leader in the nongovernmental effort to combat ALS through comprehensive programs of research and medical services.

MDA has invested in excess of $100 million in its longstanding war on ALS. Currently, MDA provides services for those with ALS at some 230 hospital-affiliated clinics and funds 19 specially designated MDA/ALS research and clinical centers at major medical institutions across the United States.

MDA-funded research helped pave the way for Filutek, the first FDA-approved ALS drug, and for other potential treatments still on the horizon. MDA’s National Task Force on Public Awareness, an advisory body comprised of individuals affected by neuromuscular diseases, has advocated in favor of legislation that would waive the 24-month Medicare waiting period for people with ALS.

In Northern Nevada/Northeastern California, people with ALS receive MDA clinic services at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. Those who wish to know more about ALS or to help support MDA’s effort to vanquish the disease are urged to call 333-6789 or (800) 572-1717. Readers can also find a wealth of information on ALS in the “Diseases” area of MDA’s Web site at