As challenge raises awareness for ALS, disease hits close to hom - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

As challenge raises awareness for ALS, disease hits close to home for some

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Chippewa Valley (WQOW) - It's the challenge that's taken the social media world by storm. We're of course talking about the ice bucket challenge. The goal? Raise money and awareness for ALS.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenges are more than just a braving stunt.

Dr. Timothy Young, a neurologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, said, "ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It's a neuromuscular disease that spreads from limb to limb. The primary symptom is mainly weakness, a progressively slow weakness."

The debilitating disease is sweeping through the nation and hitting close to home. Dr. Young said, "It affects approximately two out of every 100,000 people every year."

Sue Hennig, wife of James "Jim" Hennig, who recently died from ALS, said, “You're not able to breathe, the muscles in your diaphragm, in your chest.”

Bonna Maypark, wife of John "Jack" Maypark, who has had ALS for more than 10 years, said, "Because you can't do anything and people have to lift your arms, to wipe his nose, scratch his head. You know, you get itches in your head, or on your eye, and you can't itch it.”

While John Maypark has been battling the debilitating disease for over a decade, Sue's husband, James Hennig recently lost his fight to ALS on Aug. 21.

Sue said, “He was such a wonderful person. Essentially, he was a prisoner in his body. He eventually lost his ability to communicate. He couldn't talk. But, in here he was still very bright. His mind was as sharp as a tac."

Doctors said anyone can die from ALS, whether it takes just a few months or several years.

As of Friday, over $100 million have been donated to the ALS Association, mostly due to the ice bucket challenge. Researchers hope the funds will help find a cure.

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