The ALS Association (ALSA) recently held its sixth annual Heroes Luncheon, honoring outstanding people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) whose efforts have made significant contributions to the ALS community.
The four honorees at the Feb. 5 luncheon in Atlanta, Georgia, were:
Nanci Ryder, a Hollywood publicist and co-founder of BWR Public Relations in Los Angeles and New York, was presented with her award by a friend, the Academy Award-winning actress Renée Zellweger. In 2014, at the height of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Ryder was diagnosed with the disease. She gathered a large group of friends and clients, many well-known, to the challenge, and captured the attention of local and national media. She has since worked tirelessly to raise public awareness about ALS, and advance research and multidisciplinary care. With almost 250 members, “Team Nanci” raised over $265,000 for The ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s Los Angeles Walk to Defeat ALS.
Richard Isaacs has focused his attention toward supporting the ALS community and becoming a top fundraiser. Recently trained as an ALS Research Ambassador, he is spreading news of ALS research and encouraging greater public participation in ALS awareness-raising activities and initiatives.
Ted Harada was diagnosed with ALS while working in FedEx and DHL management, and soon became one of the first participants in the Neuralstem trial at Emory University. Harada has enthusiastically spoken about ALS at several U.S. conferences and joined the association’s National Board of Trustees in 2014.
Jim Barber, a successful attorney for 30 years before his ALS diagnose and a Vietnam War veteran, he pushed California lawmakers to approve two important bills that benefit the fight against ALS: The ALS Standard of Care Bill and the California Tax Check-off Bill, which gives taxpayers the option of donating all or part of their state income tax refunds to ALS research, and has raised more than $600,000 to date. Additionally, Barber’s efforts led to the establishment of the California ALS Research Network and secured a pivotal $18 million grant for ALS research from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
“I am inspired by each of these individuals. Jim, Ted, Richard and Nanci have all demonstrated the strength and courage of people who are actively fighting ALS, not with just words but with action,” said Barbara Newhouse, ALS Association president and CEO, in a press release. “They have successfully taken the battle against ALS to the media, the state legislature and the entire country. The entire ALS community is grateful for their efforts to drive the search for new treatments and a cure for the disease.”
The Heroes Luncheon is the highlight of The Association’s annual Leadership Conference, where staff from the organization’s national office and its 39 chapters, together with members of its Board of Representatives and Trustees, gather to develop and fine-tune strategies aimed at advancing disease treatments and improving the quality of life for those with ALS.