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MDA's National ALS Awareness Month Series Highlights Emotional, Personal Stories

May 01, 2012, 07:00 ET from Muscular Dystrophy Association

The Month of May is Recognized Nationally to Heighten Awareness of the Effects of the Neuromuscular Disease

TUCSON, Ariz., May 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Muscular Dystrophy Association marks the 21st annual ALS Awareness Month in May by featuring individuals living with the disease in a monthlong series of online profiles called "ALS: Anyone's Life Story®." Local activities, including ALS seminars, special support group programs, and ALS Awareness-themed baseball games also will be held by MDA chapters across the country throughout the month.


National ALS Awareness Month brings attention to the rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.  ALS attacks the nerve cells that control voluntary muscles, including those used for swallowing and breathing, causing weakness and eventually total paralysis. The average life expectancy for people with the disease is three to five years after their diagnosis.

Nancy O'Dell is MDA's National ALS Ambassador.  The co-host of "Entertainment Tonight" lost her own mother, Betty, to the disease in 2008, and since then, O'Dell has been an integral part of MDA's efforts to help find a cure for ALS.

"ALS can truly be anyone's life story – it is part of mine. It doesn't affect just one person, it affects entire families," O'Dell said.  "MDA's profiles of individuals and families living with ALS are compelling because they tell the real stories of how an ALS diagnosis can impact your life.  My mom handled herself with such grace. Through it all, she was still the same wonderful and caring person I'd always known." 

MDA is one of the world's leading nonprofit health organizations fighting ALS, and leading the search for better treatments and a cure for the disease through its worldwide research program.

"We're proud to be the world leader in ALS research," said MDA Interim President and Medical Director Valerie A. Cwik, M.D.  "The Association is currently funding 71 ALS research projects around the world.  We're attacking this disease from every angle, and we look forward to the day when we defeat ALS."

As researchers advance in their efforts to develop treatments, MDA's nationwide network of 200 clinics, including 42 MDA/ALS centers, provide comprehensive medical care for people with ALS. In addition, caring MDA staff in communities across the country coordinate important support services, including support groups, educational programs, assistance with medical equipment, flu shots and much more.

"MDA wants families to know that they're not alone in their journey with ALS," said MDA Senior Vice President of Health Care Services Michelle Morgan.  "From sharing the hope that comes from cutting-edge research to providing tangible assistance with the challenges that accompany an ALS diagnosis, MDA is here to help."

About MDA
MDA ( is the world's leading nongovernmental provider of ALS services and funder of ALS research. Over the years, MDA has led the fight against ALS, investing more than $290 million in its ALS research, services and information programs.  The Association's research, health care services, advocacy and education programs provide help and hope to more than 1 million Americans affected by more than 40 progressive neuromuscular diseases.

For the latest research news and information about ALS and the other diseases in MDA's program, visit and follow MDA on Facebook ( and Twitter (@MDAnews).


SOURCE Muscular Dystrophy Association

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