Doing Good: Arkansas ALS Association

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- ALS is a disease that was relatively under the radar until a few years ago, when the Ice Bucket Challenge exploded on to the social media scene. While awareness of the illness is gaining ground in the public consciousness, the Arkansas Chapter of the ALS Association has been working for years to find a cure.

"This is one of the biggest crowds that we've had for one of our walks," NWA ALS Association Executive Director Jennifer Necessary shared. 

More than 1,200 people recently showed up to support the ALS Association at the Walk to Defeat ALS. The organization works tirelessly to help those fighting the progressive neurodegenerative disease.

"It's not a job, it's a ministry, loving on these families that need so much," Necessary explained. "So we strive every day to just love on them, help them, take care of them, advocate for them and just be their right hand man."

Those who work with the nonprofit say this is a calling each of them came to for their own reasons. For the organization's Care Services Provider, Kelsey Sundara, it was her grandfather's fight with the disease that inspired her involvement.

"He passed away in 2015, so that's kind of what brought ALS to the forefront of my mind," ALS Association Care Services Coordinator Kelsey Sundara said. "And then, coupled with my degree in social work, it was a good fit. So I'm blessed to be a part of this."

This year's walk raised more than $350,000. It all started more than a decade ago when five women honored a friend's request to do something to raise awareness for the disease that took her from them far too early. Arkansas Chapter Founding Member Betty Julian said her friend Sue Larson would be proud.

"Here' we are twelve years later," Julian pointed out. "And as I drove to the walk this morning, I said a little prayer and talked to Sue. I said, 'okay, Sue. Here we are 12 years later.'"

The ALS Association works toward a future that includes a new ALS clinic in Bentonville, to help folks avoid the hours-long travel for treatment.

"We're working on those partnerships and we're very hopeful that we will be able to bring that forth, to be able to make the travel less burdensome for not only the patients  but their caregivers," Necessary explained.

The ALS Association covers all the bases -- from research, to patient and community services, to public education and advocacy. Click here to learn more about how the organization works to serve those battling the disease locally. 

Please hyperlink the "Click here" phrase above in the web script with this link: http://webar.alsa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AR_homepage
 


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