CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of people under 30 years old affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) announced today that it has appointed representatives to lead the Young Faces of ALS (YFALS) campaign this year.
The YFALS program is driven by several ALS patients diagnosed with the disease before the age of 30, along with family members and friends of people with ALS who are younger than 30 years old. The young men and women selected to lead the campaign are called "YFALS Ambassadors," and together they will participate in awareness campaigns via the YFALS Facebook page, YFALS website, and within their communities. Additionally, these ambassadors hope to encourage greater action to support on-going research at ALS TDI in discovering and developing treatments and a cure for the disease.
The 2013 YFALS Ambassadors include:
- Alex Grausnick from Shoreview, MN, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2007 at age 17. He currently works as a financial associate and continues to support the many faces behind this terrible disease.
- Alyssa Reardon from Plantation, FL, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2006 at age 20 and is actively involved with ALS TDI, MDA, and the ALS Association.
- Corey Reich from Piedmont, CA, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2007 at age 21 and has raised over $3 million for ALS research.
- Ian Hogg from Birmingham, AL, a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant who was diagnosed with ALS in 2009 at age 26 upon his return from the Iraq War.
- Katie Shambo from Merrimack, NH, whose father, Joe, was diagnosed when she was six years old and passed away when she was 13. She speaks about her father in this video: http://bit.ly/16fe5vA.
- Kelly Hilinski from Sherman Oaks, CA, whose grandmother, Linda "Nana" Randolf, passed away from ALS when he was 11 years old and told him to "be a legend." His story was profiled on ESPN: http://es.pn/Kda6Z1.
- Kevin Swann from Chicago, IL, who was diagnosed in February 2012 at age 30 and founded A Life Story Foundation.
- Kristen Sauer from Waupun, WI, who was diagnosed in 2001 at age 24 and was told that she was pregnant the same day that she was told she had ALS.
- Kristin Quinn from Arlington, VA, whose mother, Deb, is living with ALS. Kristin also lost her aunt, grandfather, and great-grandmother to the disease.
- Melissa Erickson from Seattle, WA, who was diagnosed in 2006 at age 27 and was a former U-Washington basketball star (1997-2001).
- Sam Ketchum from Newton, MA, whose father, Todd, is living with ALS and who interned at ALS TDI's lab in 2012. Over the past two years, Sam's family has raised over $300,000 for ALS research.
In 2010, YFALS Ambassadors participated in several 4ALS Day events at MLB® ballparks, and in 2011, the campaign expanded to include a national "Corntoss Challenge" in cities nationwide.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to paralysis, due to the death of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. There is no known cure for the disease. About 5,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year; the incidence is similar to multiple sclerosis. However, with no effective treatment, the average patient survives only 2-5 years following diagnosis. There are about 30,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed with ALS today. The worldwide population of ALS patients is estimated at 450,000.
About ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI)
The mission of the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is to develop effective therapeutics that slow or stop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) as soon as possible for patients today. Focused on meeting this urgent unmet medical need, ALS TDI executes a robust target discovery program, while simultaneously operating the world's largest efforts to preclinically determine the efficacy of potential therapeutics; including a pipeline of dozens of small molecules, protein biologics, gene therapies and cell-based constructs. The world's first nonprofit biotech institute, ALS TDI employs 30 professional scientists and evaluates dozens of potential therapeutics each year and is currently executing a Phase 2A clinical trial of TDI-132 (Novartis' Gilenya®) in ALS patients. Built by and for patients, the Cambridge, Massachusetts based research institute collaborates with leaders in both academia and industry to accelerate ALS therapeutic development, including Biogen Idec, UCB, the Gladstone Institutes, MDA and RGK Foundation. For more information, please visit us online at www.als.net.
Media Contact: Mari Sullivan, ALS TDI, [email protected], 617-441-7220
SOURCE ALS Therapy Development Institute