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Health Team

Fundraising walks help ALS patients get needed care

Posted April 2

— Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a condition that attacks brain nerve cells and erodes muscle use.

There is no cure for ALS, and patients are usually given two to five years to live after they have been diagnosed with it.

The Walk to Defeat ALS, scheduled for this Saturday in downtown Raleigh, raises funds to sustain patient care and support ALS research.

"It can cost up to $250,000 a year to live with ALS, and that's not all covered by insurance," said Kara Strang, senior development coordinator at the Jim "Catfish" Hunter chapter of the ALS Association.

Fundraising walks are the group's major fundraising tool. Part of the money raised helped establish a new clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the fifth such clinic in the state.

Patients visiting the clinics can see a multidisciplinary team of specialists in one day.

Neurologist Dr. Chafic Karam, for example, recently examined Glenn McNeill to determine the progression of his ALS symptoms, look for other complications and decide what type of assistance he may need, especially with his walking and his speech.

McNeill, 64, and his wife traveled two hours to the UNC clinic, and one of its specialists was to pick up his case after Karam to assess McNeill's breathing to determine if he needed any support.

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