WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If he were here today, baseball's Lou Gehrig would be proud of his brothers from the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. The Fraternity, of which Gehrig was a member during his days at Columbia University in the early 1920s, will be working with The ALS Association for a Service Learning Trip in May 2014. For this trip, Phi Delta Theta members will interact with people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and others from the ALS community in Missouri in an effort to understand the disease's impact on individuals and their families.
ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease robs people of the ability to walk, to talk and even blink an eye. It traps them inside a body they no longer can control and ultimately prevents them from breathing as it takes their life. There is no known cause of the disease, although military veterans are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population.
For seven days, Fraternity members from across the U.S. and Canada will complete service projects in the homes of people living with the disease in St. Louis and Kansas City. These projects could encompass simple duties like lawn cleanup or fence repairs or more complex tasks such as bathroom modifications or ramp building. Members will also engage in conversations with local ALS Association board members at The Association's Keith Worthington and St. Louis Regional Chapters.
"For years, our membership has been passionately raising money for ALS research. This new program will provide an opportunity for undergraduate men to interact with those affected by ALS and create a greater sense of awareness of the disease," said Luke Benfield, Director of Education for Phi Delta Theta.
"The St. Louis Regional Chapter is excited to partner with Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and host them in St. Louis," said Maureen Hill, Executive Director for the St. Louis Regional Chapter. "This will certainly foster a greater connection between our organizations, and those participating will undoubtedly understand and embrace our mission as they have opportunities to engage with those directly affected by ALS."
In addition to spearheading this service project, the Fraternity recently awarded two grants to ALS researchers totaling $135,000. Grant funds came from the Fraternity's Iron Phi program, a program in which Phi Delta Theta members raise funds for both The ALS Association and the Phi Delta Theta Foundation as they train to achieve athletic goals.
"The research funds provided to The ALS Association through the Iron Phi program are crucial to our mission and vision of creating a world without ALS," said ALS Association President & CEO Jane H. Gilbert. We appreciate the commitment of the Fraternity to serve the ALS community and look forward to celebrating together as research breakthroughs bring us closer to a cause and cure."
"There's nothing more meaningful to Phi Delta Theta's Iron Phi program than making grants to individuals who are researching this dreaded disease. We are committed to supporting those who are making strides in finding a cure for ALS, and I'm very proud of those Phis who have committed themselves to making these grants possible," said Steve Good, Phi Delta Theta's Director of Communications and Iron Phi.
Phi Delta Theta has had a longstanding partnership with the ALS community and has supported The ALS Association for more than a decade. Through the support of Phi Delta Theta's undergraduate and alumni members, the Fraternity has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars and hours to support ALS research and care services programs.
Registration for the Service Learning Trip will open in early November of 2013. Questions about the program and registration can be directed to Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters at (513) 523-6345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity exists to strengthen men for life by building on the tradition of our core values: friendship, sound learning, and rectitude. Headquartered in Oxford, Ohio, where the fraternity was founded in 1848, Phi Delta Theta has nearly 180 collegiate organizations. Phi Delta Theta aligns with the fight against Lou Gehrig's Disease through the fundraising and athletic efforts of its members.
About The ALS Association
The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at www.alsa.org.
SOURCE The ALS Association