WASHINGTON, April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- April is National Volunteer Month, and The ALS Association is recognizing the important role volunteers play in the lives of people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
ALS 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.
Since its formation in 1985, The ALS Association has been supported by a nationwide network of volunteers who continue to play a vital role in enhancing the quality of life of patients, advocating lawmakers on important ALS-related issues, and raising money to support The Association in order to find treatments and a cure for the disease through ground-breaking research.
"People with ALS have unique needs. Volunteers are essential in fulfilling a variety of roles to improve the quality of life of people with the disease," said Jane H. Gilbert, President and CEO. "Volunteers not only impact the financial burden on families affected but also are the lifeblood and driving force in advocating lawmakers for improved access to treatments."
Most volunteers with The ALS Association have a personal connection with the disease, having had a friend or family member impacted. One such volunteer, Cynthia Denton Douthat, who lives in Atlanta, Ga., has been involved with The Association for more than twenty years. Having lost her father to the disease, and twenty years later, her husband, Cynthia is an active volunteer with both the Keith Worthington Chapter and the Georgia Chapter. She sits on The Association's National Board of Trustees and serves as Chair of Care Services.
"While ALS is a diagnosis you never want to hear, you don't need to face it alone. We're all in this together. We are all part of the ALS family. I hope that I honor my dad and my husband in my efforts to help patients and their families live with dignity and hope."
Opportunities to volunteer vary chapter-by-chapter. Those interested in getting involved are encouraged to start by visiting The Association's website at: http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/volunteer/.
Volunteer opportunities include but are not limited to the following:
Run booths at community events and share information about The Association's many services while promoting opportunities to volunteer and fundraise for the fight against ALS.
Provide home front companionship and support to people with ALS and their caregivers.
Walk to Defeat ALS®
Organize a team to participate in your local walk or provide onsite event support with registration, set up and publicity. Learn more here:
Assist with mission-critical tasks such as data entry, mail processing and event planning.
Sign up to be an ALS advocate here: http://capwiz.com/alsa/mlm/signup/. The Association depends on advocates to take a collective impact on lawmakers regarding important issues facing people with ALS.
Chapter or National Board Member
Board members volunteer to oversee the mission of The ALS Association at chapters or on the National Board of Trustees.
"We like to say that every dollar and every hour makes all the difference in the world," said Gilbert. "We know some have more to give than others, but to those living with ALS, it's the strength of your dedication that matters most."
Those interested in volunteering with The ALS Association should contact their local chapter: http://www.alsa.org/community/services.html?service_type=chapters.
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