Seventh-grader Luke Whitworth and eighth-grader Alexis Whitworth have each set a goal of raising in $250 in pledges for their participation in the Central Florida Walk to Defeat ALS scheduled for March 15 at Orlando’s Lake Eola.
Luke and Alexis are the children of Jason Whitworth who taught physical education and coached cross-country and track at West Shore.
“My dad was diagnosed with ALS in September 2011,” Luke said in a statement. “He continued working for a year after his disgnosis until he was no longer able. Since his diagnosis, he has lost control of all muscles, except for those in his neck and face, and they are now losing control. It has been really hard for me to watch my dad go through this, and I miss being able to do the things we used to do together, like surfing, fishing, riding his motorcycle, shooting hoops and so much more. I miss being able to talk to him and hear him talk back to me. I even miss being yelled at. I don’t want other kids to have to go through this. That’s why I’m raising funds — to find a cure and to raise awareness about this horrible disease.”
Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named for the New York Yankees’ Hall of Fame first baseman, who played in the 1930s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive and fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of the ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages two to five years from the time of diagnosis. It costs an average of $200,000 a year to care for an ALS patient.
Every 90 seconds a person in this country is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes another person will lose his or her battle with the disease. Currently there is no know cure though support is bringing researchers closer to an answer.
“I am really excited for the opportunity to walk in support of my dad and all those affected by Lou Gehrig’s Disease and to spread awareness of the urgency to find treatments and a cure,” Luke said. “Please consider walking with me or sponsoring me. With your help, we will be able to make a difference in the lives of people affected by the disease.”
Those wishing to sponsor Luke, can visit his web page at http://bit.ly/1k2XkuG. Donations can make online or on printed forms that can be mailed in with the payment.