June 4 - Chad Keenan

Today is day four of ALS Awareness month, and we are sharing Chad Keenan's story and how he succeeded in #MakingitPossible to go to Vegas and watch the Knights in the playoffs! Read his story below.

"What happens in Vegas… simply must be shared!

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My ALS related symptoms started slowly, progressed over many months, and this past year impacted my activity levels to the point of frustration.  It was early in May 2018, age 42, that I was officially diagnosed with ALS.  By that time, my active routine of coaching both of my daughters’ soccer teams, providing assistance to my 85 year old grandmother with vision loss, and living la Vida loco travelling with family, hiking, biking, watersports and choosing stairs over elevators, was being replaced by a sedentary existence.

It feels better to know the beast within.  While the emotion of being diagnosed with ALS is best described by the expletive rant of a drunken sailor, putting a label to my degenerating health issues, has been a re-launching point of perspective and appreciation.  Days after sharing my diagnosis with family and friends, my best bud Kyle sent me a text, asking if I am keen to fly with him to Las Vegas later that week to watch playoff hockey; his favourite NHL team the Winnipeg Jets take on the Vegas Knights.  YES, is what I instantly wanted to respond, but I did not.  In my head, I questioned how I was going to physically take such a trip.  Earlier this year, I regrettably cancelled a long awaited vacation with my family, thinking my physical limitations of being on crutches, exhausted all the time, unbalanced and frequently falling, would nullify any enjoyment of the trip for myself and those with me.  How would I be able to enjoy Vegas?  Kyle was unwavering in his commitment to make it work, push me everywhere in a wheelchair and do up my buttons if need-be.  My family was supportive and encouraging, and then the final piece of the puzzle presented itself.

Having only been diagnosed with ALS the week prior, my rather empty schedule had quickly filled up with visits to the Neuro-Science team at the South Health Campus in Calgary, along with home visits and telephone conversations with ALS Clinic representatives from Alberta Health Services and representatives from the ALS Society.  Where initially my family and I began to muddle through imagining how best to move forward and cope with my diagnosis, a team of support joined us!

Like a timely entrance of a movie action hero, Leslie and her colleagues with the ALS Society, upon hearing of my Vegas trepidation, offered me a motorized scooter.  I had not thought of utilizing a scooter.  Leslie promptly delivered the scooter to me at home.  Later that day, for the first time in ages, I experienced an unassisted neighbourhood walk/scoot.   It was so freeing; the motorized scooter enabled me to re-gain independence. I was looking forward to Vegas!

Now for those that don’t know, Las Vegas is super accessible for wheelchairs and scooters.  Ramps and elevators everywhere to take you up and over streets, around stairs, and into shows and the newly built T-Mobile Arena where the Vegas Knights play.  We enjoyed the hockey game, watched shows, toured the sights and sounds of Vegas from one end of the strip to another, and even travelled via taxi and Uber to and from the airport, thanks to the portability of the scooter dismantling and assembling in less than a minute.  Amazing!

I was emotionally touched by the ALS Society for providing me with a scooter.  I continue to appreciate their support in improving the accessibility of my home.  The ALS Society makes it possible for me to overcome challenges and better enjoy those all too precious moments in life with my family and friends.

With sincere thanks, Chad."

Griffith Woods family walk 2018.JPG