Lisa Shelley decided more than a year ago that ALS would take a back seat in her life. In the foremost position she opted for humanity — or more specifically, helping others.
Through her program Friends Like Mine, Shelley prepares gift bags for the MDA/ALS Center in Charlotte, N.C., where staff give them to people who have just learned they have ALS.
The bags contain $50 gift certificates donated by local Harris Teeter grocery stores. With money she raises with help from her church and the community, Shelley also purchases Barnes & Noble, Target and Starbucks certificates. Rounding out the package are a journal, bookmark and body lotion.
|Shelley hopes her gift bags tell people with a new ALS diagnosis "they are not alone."
“The bags are a small token of love. They are not meant to be a reminder of the disease, but a means to take patients’ attention elsewhere for a few moments,” Shelley says. “I want them to know they are not alone. No battle is won alone, and I plan to fight this one for a long time.”
Shelley, 45, co-owns Nails Plus, a nails and hair salon in High Point, N.C. She learned she had ALS in February 2006.
David Stephenson, MDA regional field representative in Charlotte, says, “I’m not sure I can ever do justice to telling Shelley’s story. She has lived her life helping others, including serving years as a caregiver. It is remarkable to see her donate her time and energies to such a worthwhile mission while daily trying to manage her own difficulties associated with this terrible disease.”
Shelley currently serves on the planning committee for MDA’s 2008 Road to a Cure Gala in Greensboro which raises funds for ALS research. At this year’s event in March, she was honored for her efforts in raising awareness of ALS.
“Her desire to make this a special year created a buzz throughout the entire community,” Stephenson said. “Largely due to her efforts, we are expecting 500 people at our next gala, which is pretty spectacular given that this is only its second year.”
In February, Shelley began participating through the Charlotte MDA/ALS Center in a clinical trial of the antibiotic ceftriaxone as a potential ALS treatment. She says it will be a lengthy process, but she has high expectations of its results.
“MDA has been so good to me. I love working on the road to a cure, and I believe it will happen. In working to raise money for research, I also have gained a good idea of where it’s headed. It will benefit me, yes, but it will also help thousands of others,” she said.
Every month, Shelley heads for the MDA/ALS Center in Charlotte with 10 or so of her gift bags, each one valued at about $120. She hopes others will learn of the program and expand it to other MDA clinics across the country.