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2023 ALS Association Evergreen Chapter Gala: How You Can Support Washingtonians With This Rare Disease.

SEATTLE, Wash. April 7, 2023 - Do you know what ALS stands for? It’s amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and it’s a disease that impacts the nervous system, by weakening muscles and affecting how your body moves. ALS is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the name coming from the first baseman for the New York Yankees whose career ended in 1941 due to ALS.

“Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, is such a fascinating disease, there are a lot of whys, a lot of unknowns. So I really wanted to jump in and understand this disease more” explains Justin Taft, the Development Manager at the ALS Association Evergreen Chapter, when asked how he came to his position. Taft oversees fundraising events in Alaska and Western Washington. “We do amazing work, we are the largest [chapter] in the country made up of volunteers as well as loved ones, caregivers, advocates, dedicated staff, and people who are living with ALS.”

The organization covers all the bases when it comes to fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease – from research, patient and community services, public education, and advocacy, to providing care and support to those living with the disease and their loved ones. Though there isn’t one yet, the goal is to find a cure. In the meantime, the organization focuses on treatment through global research. The only way all of this can continue is through the events they host.

Nationally, they host walks to raise funds, but for Washington, the gala really helps this region out. The gala this year is Together, We Are… Hope, Courage, Love. Taft says, “The reasoning behind that is because ‘together we are,’ you can put any kind of word after that and it brings us back to our case of support. Together we are hope, courage, and strength. Or together it could be we are strong, we are power, we are trailblazers, we are family, we support, we’re force, we’re connected, and we are mighty.”

This year’s May gala will be in Woodinville, featuring both in-person and virtual attendees, speaking on important information surrounding ALS awareness and the impact it has on patients and their families. The evening will include a live and silent auction as well as a raffle, food from Twelve Baskets Catering and entertainment by Gunhild Carling.

All this goes towards helping those with ALS in the Pacific Northwest region, especially those in rural areas. “A zip code will not dictate access to services,” says Amara Bates, Managing Director of Development at the ALS Association Evergreen Chapter. When talking with Bates, she mentioned that they work with a lot of members of the military in their region, which covers Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana. “Someone in the military is twice as likely to be diagnosed with ALS and something that I’ve heard from several people is when someone retires from the military, they tend to move out of the cities, so they tend to be more of our rural healthcare.”

In recent years, ALS Associations across the country have been able to make leaps and bounds in research from fundraising events, especially following the Ice Bucket Challenge. The Association reports that in 2014, $115 million was raised in donations through the challenge and helped the ALS Association invest in research and treatment for the disease. The Ice Bucket Challenge was co-created by two ALS activists, where you record yourself pouring a bucket of ice cold water over your head, or have someone do it for you and upload it to social media to bring awareness to ALS. Then you would nominate others to douse themselves in freezing water or opt out by donating to ALS organizations.

Bates explains that the challenge brought in a huge influx of money into the research space and she believes that if it never happened, they wouldn’t have the new drug developments they have now for those with ALS. Bates goes on to say that, “People are living longer with ALS which is good. It can’t be just research that is being conducted, there has to be support, there has to be advocacy, and there has to be all of these other things happening at the same time so we can continue to support people living with ALS because until we can completely prevent it, we still need to find ways to support people with this disease.”

Regardless of if it’s a challenge or a gala, Bates says they are doing everything they can to keep ALS front and center in people’s minds and thinking of new ways to find support.

Following the Ice Bucket Challenge, more people now know neurological disease and this helps keep fundraising efforts going at a higher rate. Bates also shares that the disease is rare, so awareness is pivotal.

Until there is a cure, the goal is to allow those with Lou Gehrig’s disease to live longer lives, and that starts with support.

Gala Information:

For those wanting to attend the Together, we are- Hope, Courage, Love Gala, you can visit this page to purchase a ticket or donate. The event will be Saturday, May 20, 2023, from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm at Absolute Mobility in Woodinville, Washington.

Additional Support:

Right at Home understands the importance of supporting not only those with different conditions but family members as well. If you or a loved one has ALS or other diseases and are in need of care, please reach out to us through our website or call us at (206) 774-1100 for information on our services.





Erin Roney bio image
Erin holds her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a specialization in Public Relations from the University of Colorado Denver. She has spent a few years as a TV broadcaster, working as a main anchor, multimedia journalist, weather anchor, show producer and web producer. Erin also has experience as an on-air host for a live video gaming platform. Her roles included editing videos, interviewing, developing story ideas and scripts, as well as producing various forms of content for online and TV use. As the Content Manager for Right at Home Seattle-Eastside and Pierce County, she continues to interview local people within the health care industry to provide resources for our clients and answer their most asked questions. 
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