What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease in American English and motor neurone disease in British English, is a form of motor neurone disease caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons, located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input. The condition is often called Lou Gehrig's disease in North America, after the New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939. The disorder is characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, spasticity, dysarthria, dysphagia, and respiratory compromise. Sensory function generally is spared, as is autonomic and oculomotor activity.
ALS is a progressive, fatal, neurodegenerative disease with most affected patients dying of respiratory compromise and pneumonia after 2 to 3 years; although some perish within a year from the onset of symptoms, and occasional individuals have a more indolent course and survive for many years.
How you can help?
Mish's sponsoring a raffle for the benefit of ALS research. 50% of the proceeds will go to the Les Turner Foundation, with the money specifically earmarked for ALS research. And the lucky winners can win up to $1,000,000.
You can support this action by participating in the raffle Mish has set up. All details are available on Mish's post.
Should you want to simply donate, and not participate in the raffle (50% of the money is dedicated to the raffle, and only the remaining 50% to ALS research), or provide corporate sponsorship please get in touch directly with Mike "Mish" Shedlock.
Why Mish is doing this?
Mish's wife, Joanne, has Progressive Bulbar Palsy a particularly aggressive form of the disease.
Why am I getting involved?
I was among the close circle of friends aware of this, and have been deeply empathizing since I heard about it. Unfortunately, 2011 and 2012 have been bearing many such news to me. This is just one more, and it seems to us to be a very cruel one.
I hope I won't offend anyone, and actually help people cope with such situations by taking a buddhistic approach, on empathy and compassion, but also on detachment. With this in mind, I would like to quote Richard Dawkins:
"Nature is not cruel, pitilessly, indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous -- indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose."The buddhists have a different way of approaching life, in which dying is an integral part of.
A great introductory text is Meditations on Living, Dying, and Loss: Ancient Knowledge for a Modern World from the First Complete Translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.