The ALS Association, a national nonprofit based in Wash. D.C., and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), a Chicago-based nonprofit health agency, have joined forces to fund a research project aimed at finding a potential therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Both nonprofits are focused on finding treatments and cures for ALS and providing services for those affected with the debilitating, fatal disease.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is no cure and no life-prolonging treatments for the disease.
Valerie Cwik, M.D., MDA executive vice president and chief medical and scientific officer, said, "As part of our mission to save and improve the lives of those with neuromuscular diseases, we've maintained a major focus on funding ALS research and services since the 1950s. We're determined to strengthen that crucial commitment as we join forces with the ALS Association, working together to accelerate research progress to arrive at definitive therapeutic solutions to benefit those with ALS, their families and caregivers."
In July, MLB celebrated the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famed "Luckiest Man" speech by collectively awarding $300,000 to four organizations dedicated to finding treatments and cures for ALS. Soon after, the country was taken by storm when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, prompting millions to take part in the "ice-water-over-your-head" initiative and donate to ALS organizations.