MDA Tells Anyone's Life Story in May

by ALSN Staff on Sat, 2010-05-01 13:47
Chuck Gunther and Rowdy of Cody, Wyoming

A cowboy shows city slickers how to ride and leads pack trips into the wilderness. A church volunteer reaches out to those newly diagnosed with ALS. A young father pursues his passion to write while thinking up creative ways to adapt to his condition. A college professor studies the best ways to teach special-needs children.

These remarkable people are among 31 Americans living with ALS that MDA will feature — one each day — during the month of May. The annual online series, called ALS: Anyone’s Life Story, was established four years ago in recognition of National ALS Awareness Month. People from all regions of the country, of all ages and backgrounds, and at various stages of progression of ALS are included in Anyone’s Life Story.

William Harris
Marc Levinson
Kirk Jones
Jessica Gump

A new feature this year is a companion to Anyone’s Life Story called It’s My Story Too. This series invites anyone affected by an ALS diagnosis, including spouses, children, family, friends, caregivers and colleagues, to share how ALS has changed their lives.

Friends and family are often deeply affected by a loved one’s diagnosis, and many welcome the opportunity to share their stories with others. It’s My Story Too offers a chance to do so. Testimonials can be posted beginning May 1 — through words, photos or videos — on the MDA ALS Division website,

This year, as always, many local MDA offices are holding special events to commemorate National ALS Awareness Month in their communities. To find out what your local MDA office is doing, call or go to and enter your ZIP code. “Special Events” will be listed at the bottom of your local office’s home page.

The individuals featured in this year’s Anyone’s Life Story are:

David McKannan, Huntsville, Ala.;

Kirk Jones, Gilbert, Ariz.;

Adnan Gill, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.;

Carla Zilber-Smith, Berkeley, Calif.;

Peter Escajeda, Orange, Calif.;

Kevin Brady, Denver, Colo.;

James “Tony” Blanton, Lawrenceville, Ga.;

Ed Tessaro, Alpharetta, Ga.;

Rick Dumas, Marietta, Ga.;

Anne Marie Schlekeway, Chicago, Ill.;

Brett Beam, Canton, Ill.;

Marc Levinson, Cobden, Ill.;

Rick Olson, Fort Wayne, Ind.;

Deborah Goessling, Wayland, Mass.;

Peter Riggs, Minneapolis, Minn.;

Ricky Muirhead, Pearl, Miss.;

Glen Houston, St. Charles, Mo.;

Jessica Gump, O’Fallon, Mo.;

Robert Buhrkuhl, St. Louis, Mo.;

Fern Cohen, Rego Park, N.Y.;

Tom Swift, Hendersonville, N.C.;

Shirley Schmelzle, Cincinnati, Ohio;

Catrina Denning, Portland, Ore.;

Helena “Nell” Hardy, Erie, Pa.;

Ewald Schadt, Pearland, Texas;

Barbara Adcock, Sugar Land, Texas;

Keith Gawrick, Katy, Texas;

William Harris, Houston, Texas;

Billy Wilcoxson, Kennewich, Wash.;

Colleen Tait, Gig Harbor, Wash.;

Charles “Chuck” Gunther, Cody, Wyo.

To read the “Anyone’s Life Story” series, go to the MDA ALS Division website.

ALSN Staff
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