The ALS Compassionate Heart

The Fifth Avenue Collection is donating $20 to the ALS Society for each ALS Compassionate Heart necklace purchased in Alberta. The ALS Compassionate Heart is a symbol of caring and support for people affected by ALS, the client, family, friends, physicians and caregivers. The ALS Compassionate Heart features 61 Swarovski Crystals each individually encased in a bezel setting. The pendant and the chain are finished in a rich Rhodium Finish. The chain is 20” and adjusts to 22”. It is nickel, lead and cadmium free.

Cost is $59.99 and includes tax and shipping.

June 30 - Colin Davis

Wow, today marks the final day of ALS Awareness Month. We are so grateful for each and every story we received, and it was an absolute privilege to share the ways that our clients, volunteers, and donors are #MakingitPossible. 

Today we celebrate one of the most committed, hard-working fundraisers in the country, Colin Davis. Each year, he works tirelessly to raise funds for Betty's Run for ALS. Betty’s Run is all about inspiring care, hope and community for those living with and affected by ALS.

Fourteen years ago, Colin lost his Mom to ALS. Ever since, he has quietly worked behind the scenes to support the ALS cause. Incredibly, Colin has raised over $200,000 for ALS research and client support. Most importantly, Colin does this because he wants to make a difference and by sharing his story with his friends and family. Colin has raised an incredible amount of awareness about ALS.

It is Colin’s belief and commitment to ensure people living with ALS receive the necessary support and also to help to find a cure. The ALS Society could not provide the supports without the great work of Champions like Colin. Thank you Colin for #MakingitPossible.

June 29 - Peter Benders

Today we are celebrating the 2017 Hinton WALK for ALS Ambassador Peter Benders and his inspiring dedication to raising awareness in his community. 

“Hi, my name is Peter Benders. I am 67-years-old and have been living in the Edson area for 38 years. I have worked as an electrician in the oil field. I retired at 65 and started working on all of the unfinished projects at home. This lasted for about a year, but later that summer I noticed slight muscle twitching in my arms. In addition, I began to experience cramps in my hands and arms, and some muscle weakening. Shortly after my first symptoms, I saw my doctor who was not taking any chances and referred me to a neurologist. The test results were not positive at the time, but she wanted to see me back in six months. At that time she told me “I hope I am wrong, but I think it is ALS,” and referred me to the ALS Clinic at the University of Alberta Hospital where the diagnosis was confirmed. Still not knowing how bad this disease actually was, I was undergoing more tests. The first time I met with the ALS team I was asked questions like “Can you still eat, breath, talk, look after yourself, etc.” I then knew what I was facing.
Fortunately for me the progression of my ALS journey has been relatively slow. I always had love for motorcycles and the outdoors which gave me the opportunity to see this beautiful country from the seat of a motorcycle and from the top of the mountain.

With all of this in mind and the help of the ALS Society of Alberta, the ALS team at the University of Alberta, Edson Healthcare Group, the love of my friends and family and the support of Mikael Backlund with the Calgary Flames who helped in #MakingitPossible for me and my family to go to the Flames vs. LA game in February; all of this inspires me to continue and be thankful for the life I have lived and to make the best of each day I have left.

The love and support of my family, most of them in the Netherlands and the financial support by Canadians gives me hope that one day we will find a cure. The WALK for ALS is extremely important in raising the awareness of this disease. Hope to see you all at the Hinton WALK for ALS on Sept. 10, 2017. Thank you.” – Peter Benders

June 28 - Angus "Scotty" Smith

Angus Smith, better known as “Scotty”, is a celebrated musician, teacher and a ham radio operator. One of his proudest successes was when he made contact with astronaut Chris Hadfield. Scotty has not let ALS stop him from sharing his musical gifts, and he still shares or offers instruction. His past students even visit and play for him. Scotty is originally from Scotland; he jokes about renaming his Stratocaster guitar the “Scottocaster”. He has played with musicians from all over the world and played at very prominent venues. This very talented man continues to share his stories and everyone is simply drawn to him.  Scotty shares what a difference the ALS Society has made. The tilt manual chair and the EZ-lift chair have made getting around and relaxing less of a challenge and are #MakingitPossible for Scotty to embrace his greatest passions!

June 27 - Helen Banks

We are nearing the end of ALS Awareness Month, but we still have some incredible stories to share! Today we are celebrating Helen Banks and how she uses mobility equipment when #MakingitPossible to live each day to the fullest. 

"When I was diagnosed with ALS, my daughter Kim and family invited Jim and me to live with them in the Bar-F Ranch House just west of Hinton so they can assist Jim in looking after me. I am very grateful to the amazing ALS Society for providing a lift chair, walker and scooter so I can manoeuvre the long distance from the kitchen to the parlour and outdoors. Energy management is one of my greatest challenges and the equipment makes life easier. Many thanks to the ALS Society staff!

In order to maintain a positive outlook, I treat life as an adventure and moving in with the Tew family has just extended my adventure." - Helen Banks

June 23 - Wayne MacIntosh

For today's #MakingitPossible story, we would like to honour Wayne MacIntosh, a Fort McMurray resident who is currently living with ALS. In April of 2014, Wayne began experiencing muscle twitches, weakening, weight loss and fatigue. His doctor at the time was unfamiliar with ALS, driving Wayne to consult with a different doctor, who then referred him to a neurologist. After several weeks of testing, Wayne’s neurologist concluded that he most likely had ALS, and referred him to the ALS Clinic at the University of Alberta where the diagnosis was confirmed.

At first, Wayne found it shocking to learn that he had acquired a disease with no cure that is typically fatal within three to five years from symptom onset. Over the next few months he retired from his job and spent time with friends and family across Canada and in the United States. Wayne has also acted as an Ambassador for the Fort McMurray WALK for ALS, taking place on July 16 in Birchwood Trails. 

“The love of my friends and family and the hope for a cure for this terrible disease is the fuel that provides me with the inspiration to be thankful for the life I’ve lived, and make the best of each and every day I have left,” Wayne said. “The WALKs for ALS are extremely important in raising awareness of this disease, and help fund research that will one day find a cure.”

Thank you, Wayne.

June 22 - Henri Unverricht

It is day 22 of ALS Awareness Month, and today we are celebrating the 2017 Camrose WALK for ALS Ambassador, Henri Unverricht! Thank you Henri for #MakingitPossible to raise further awareness in the Camrose area. Be sure to join us this Saturday for the Camrose WALK for ALS! Visit www.walkforals.ca for further details. 

"Without the ALS Society, I wouldn't have been able to stay at home as long as I could. It's always done on a family level. We are one big family - personal connection with the people, both family and staff. My sleep quality is very good with the bi-pap; it helped right off the bat. The moral and physical support is exceptional as well as support for the family. In the summer of 2015 I experienced shortness of breath and in May of 2016 I was diagnosed with ALS. I lived in Camrose with my wife Violet since 1993 until 2004. In 2004, we moved to Edmonton, then back to Camrose in 2012 where my wife was born and raised. I was born in Lausanne, Switzerland." - Henri Unverricht

June 20 - Adrian Bussiere

ALS Awareness Month is flying by! It is already day 20, and today we are celebrating Adrian Bussiere. Adrian has been provided with equipment from the ALS Society that has been #MakingitPossible for him to live comfortably and preserve his precious energy. When asked about his favourite equipment, Adrian said that he loves his lift chair as it keeps the swelling down in his feet and is super comfortable. He also finds his stair lift to be a necessity as it gives him access to his house and garage, which saves much of his energy. Thank you for sharing your story, Adrian!

June 19 - Dave Williams

We are back with another incredible story from the ALS community. Dave Williams is a committed member of the ALS Society's Board of Directors, while navigating his own PLS diagnosis. He is most grateful for the communicative equipment that the Society has provided him with, such as the iPad that he uses regularly. He added that he is also grateful for the support he receives with any difficulties he encounters while using his equipment. 

While Dave may appreciate the ALS Society of Alberta's support services, we truly appreciate the dedication he has to raising awareness and #MakingitPossible to channel hope for a future without this disease. Thank you, Dave!

June 16 - Adam Rombough

Today we are celebrating Adam Rombough, an inspirational man and true advocate for the ALS cause. Adam made it his personal mission to raise funds for the Edmonton WALK for ALS, and his team, Team A-Bomb, successfully raised over $30,000! Adam felt that it was his personal responsibility to make a positive difference for other people living with ALS. Thank you, Adam for #MakingitPossible.

"This disease will take my body and eventually my life but I will never let it take away my mind, my heart, my sense of humor, or my personality. I want you to remember even though you might see me going through some physical changes I will always be me on the inside!! I have always been in a rush to achieve every single goal that I have ever been passionate about in record time, to get to the finish line before anyone else and start tackling the next goal and its challenges. Looking back on my life this is very apparent and because of this mentality it comes as no surprise that I am going to reach the final finish line before most would. I am excited to see what the next challenge is after life on earth and I promise all of you that I will break records and over achieve in the after life too and I look forward to telling you all about it one day!" - Adam Rombough

June 15 - Donna Strome

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Today we are celebrating our 2017 Red Deer WALK for ALS Ambassador, Donna Strome! Donna graciously accepted to act as our Ambassador, and represent the ALS community in Red Deer. Thank you, Donna for #MakingitPossible to spread further awareness in Red Deer! The Red Deer WALK takes place this Saturday at 9 a.m. in Kiwanis Picnic Park. For more information or to donate/register, visit www.walkforals.ca

"Walking into the Neurologist’s clinic hoping to hear there was a solution to whatever was causing my symptoms and walking out with a diagnosis of ALS, was definitely not how I had expected that day to go. Even though I was a practicing Registered Nurse, and had worked on a palliative care unit helping others dealing with a terminal diagnosis, I felt totally unprepared to hear one applied to me. I am blessed to have supportive family and friends, and am thankful for a belief that in spite of the storms, I have much for which to give thanks. However, the reality of the situation and the gravity of the diagnosis of ALS did cause me angst. I had many questions and concerns about not only the quantity, but quality of my life over the next few years. The ALS Society quickly became another anchor in the storm. The Society, from Administrators to technicians to liaisons to volunteers and peers, have provided much needed and greatly appreciated support. “You are not alone; we are here to help” – words spoken to me during my first visit with the ALS Society. They were not empty words; the Society has played a vital role in navigating with me through the maze of needs and have provided not only moral and emotional support but many practical physical devices to assist my activities of daily living. I cannot thank them enough for the difference they are making in my life!" - Donna Strome

June 14 - Warren Lafoy

Today we are celebrating the story of Warren Lafoy, an inspiring man with a positive outlook. Thank you Warren for your dedication in #MakingitPossible to make each day the best possible day!

"Since being diagnosed with ALS, I have been taken to the depth of my soul, my spirit is strong, it's actually stronger than it was before. Everyday brings a new challenge, the symptoms have hit me really fast and quick, ALS may steal my physical ability but it sure is not going to steal my heart and soul. I'm doing things now in slow motion and enjoying the things I love: sitting outside with nature, enjoying the birds, my family and friends. The ALS Society of Alberta and Homecare have blown me away with everything they have done for me. I'm grateful for how fast I have received equipment like a hospital bed, walker, shower chair and transport chair to make my life easier. Meeting and making connections with others through the ALS Society made me feel like I wasn't alone coming out with my diagnosis and new challenges in life. I feel like I'm not slowly dying but quickly living and my goal is to live the best life possible and make one person smile or laugh, then I have done my goal for the day!" - Warren Lafoy

June 13 - Barry Varga

Barry Varga could always bring a smile out of anyone. With the support of his family and friends, and Barry’s amazing outlook on life, Barry continued to live each day with determination, passion and humour. Barry decided he had to do something that would bring some laughter and humour at such a dark time and raise awareness about ALS.

With Judy and the girls by his side, and along with his best friends, Mike & Candace, the film, Disabled and Dangerous was made. This is the outcome of Barry’s hilarious perspective coupled with his ambition to bring people together to make a comedy project that will raise awareness and funds for ALS.

The film was premiered at Calgary's Globe Cinema in June 2012 with more than 200 people in attendance.  Disabled and Dangerous has played at various public and private fundraisers. This short film has won the hearts of audiences in several American Film Festivals, including the New York City Iron Mule Short Comedy Film Series.

Barry’s spirit, amazing, positive outlook, lives on. #MakingitPossible

June 12 - Ashley de Nooij

Today we are celebrating one of our most dedicated volunteers, Ashley de Nooij. Ashley has attended every Betty's Run for ALS since the very beginning 21 years ago. She also stepped up and joined the committee in 2014, and has been working hard ever since. She takes on more responsibility each year, with a smile and a can-do attitude. She never hesitates to commit her time to the ALS Society and we could not be more grateful to have her on board. Thank you Ashley for #MakingitPossible year, after year, after year.

June 10 - Mandy Van Dresar

It is day 10 of ALS Awareness Month, and we are attending the Grande Prairie WALK for ALS to celebrate! WALK Coordinator, Mandy Van Dresar, has worked tirelessly to promote ALS awareness in her city. Before the WALK took place, it had already raised nearly $30,000 for client support services and research. Thank you to Mandy Van Dresar, her friends and family, for #MakingitPossible to host a WALK for ALS in Grande Prairie. We know it has not been easy, and your commitment is inspiring.

Click here to read Mandy's story. 

June 9 - John Wort Hannam

In 2012, John Wort Hannam’s childhood friend, Ken passed away from ALS. In honour of Ken, John has brought his musician friends and family to pay tribute to a wonderful friend. This year, John hosted the third Annual Songs for Ken concerts in Calgary and Fort Macleod.  It is truly a celebration of friendship, life and dedication to all of the families affected by ALS. Incredibly, John has raised over $27,000 for the ALS cause. 

In the midst of his busy life, John takes precious time to support the ALS cause.  He has become a true ambassador to make a difference in the lives of people affected by ALS. Thank you to John, Jenny and Charlie for all you do for people living with ALS. #MakingitPossible.

See a song he wrote in honour of Ken, below. 

June 8 - John Richardson

It is day eight of ALS Awareness Month, and today we are sharing a story from John Richardson, who took advantage of the Slide and Ride program at COP. John was able to enjoy a day of skiing with his family, thanks to the equipment and support provided. Thank you to COP for this amazing program, and for #MakingitPossible to make each day the best possible day for those living with and affected by ALS!

"I had a great time on the snow Sunday at COP. I would recommend it everyone. They provided everything you need, including sit ski, lift ticket, lunch voucher, and helmet if needed. I was assigned two guides to control speed and avoid others. If interested people can go to the CADS Alberta website and look for Slide & Ride program." - John & Joyce Richardson

June 7 - Roy Eklund

Can you believe it is already day seven of ALS Awareness Month?! Today we are sharing Roy Eklund's story, who is living with Kennedy's Disease (a neuromuscular disorder with similar symptoms to ALS). 

"My name is Roy Eklund and I was diagnosed with Kennedys Disease in 1991. I appreciate the sheepskin slippers provided to me from the ALS Society. They are a blessing, I wear them all the time and it is so nice to actually have warm feet! I have a better sleep now that I have a blanket lifter to avoid pressure on my toes. "I call it my toe tent" In addition, I love my spokeman. People can actually hear me talking in the dining room. Socializing and connecting with others is very important to me. I look forward to attending the monthly MND coffee group at the ALS Society. It is an up lifter an encouragement and so great to talk to people and meet with others who are going through the same thing as me. Thank you to the ALS Society for all you have provided and all your support, you are a blessing!"