The Walton Cure 4 ALS Fund
For ALS Research
To read about Derek's 2011 Skydive for PALS
To print Derek's 2013 Pledge Sheet
A Message from Derek: .
In May, 2002 I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), known as Motor Neuron Disease in Europe and, more commonly in North America, as Lou Gehrig's Disease named after the famed New York Yankee first baseman who was diagnosed in 1939. Thus began a journey which has changed my perspective on life and I truly believe has made me a better person. Let me share with you some details.
It started with a slight numbness and cramping in my right hand which many top neurologists in Toronto diagnosed incorrectly. You see, that is the mystery of ALS -all other causes and diseases need to be eliminated first! For that reason, in my case, it took several years to diagnose my condition correctly. Sadly, for the majority of ALS patients this is time they do not have.
ALS is a rapid, progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and around the spinal cord. The largest nerve cells - motor neurons - send signals to the spinal cord from the brain and then to the muscles - leg and foot from the lower spinal cord - and arm and hand from the upper spinal cord. Speech, swallowing and chewing are controlled by the brain stem. ALS causes the motor neurons to die, therefore blocking signals to the muscles. With no nourishment the muscles atrophy or waste away. All voluntary muscles are affected. Total paralysis eventually takes over. As the brain is not affected full cognitive function continues. ALS does not affect the five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, nor does it affect the mind, eye muscles, heart, bladder, bowel or sexual muscles.
In Canada, approximately 3,000 people are currently diagnosed with ALS - over one-half million worldwide. ALS is the most common cause of neurological death on an annual basis. The incidence of ALS is five times higher than Huntington's disease and about equal to Multiple Sclerosis. Half of all people affected with ALS live at least three or more years after diagnosis. Twenty percent live five years or more; up to ten percent will live more than ten years. The average life expectancy when diagnosed is 2-5 years. People of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected. It is NOT contagious.
There are three types of ALS:
So my journey continues, thankfully slowly... As my arms and legs weaken so too does my energy level but not my heart. There have been major changes in lifestyle also. However, I remain positive and am totally committed to raising both awareness and funds to find a cure for this disease.
In closing, there are so many people I wish to thank for their ongoing support. The team of specialists at the ALS Clinic at Sunnybrook Hospital, my caregivers from Saint Elizabeth, CCAC in Barrie, SCAPD, Bayshore and Closing the Gap, family and friends. However, a very special "thank you" for the love, support and understanding provided by Diane, my wife, best friend and truly the love of my life.
Together we CAN make a difference.
About Derek's Goal:
Please join me in supporting Sunnybrook's ALS / Neuromuscular Clinic by making a donation to the Walton Cure 4 ALS Fund.
In 2009 a skydiving fundraiser called Jumping 4 "PALS" (people with ALS) was held at SkyDive Toronto in Cookstown, Ontario, Canada. This proved so successful that it has now become an annual event attracting first time jumpers who raise pledges for ALS research. "PALS"4 on August 18th raised over $35,000 bringing total to date to almost $280,000. Thank you so much donors. This event has now been held in over 10 states within the USA for ALSTDI and now Europe is showing an interest as well...all to help find a cure for ALS. If the video above has inspired you then why not PRESS the button below. Your dollars mean so much. Thank you.
THERE IS NO CURE - PLEASE DONATE TO HELP US FIND ONE