Duke, UNC Coaches Unite to Raise Awareness of ALS

Rivals Honor former ODU Coach Jeff Capel, Jr., Recently Diagnosed with ALS

The men’s basketball coaching staffs of Duke University and the University of North Carolina are wearing ALS Association lapel pins tonight in honor of Jeff Capel, Jr., who was recently diagnosed with ALS. Capel was the head coach at Old Dominion University for seven seasons and also served as an assistant for the Charlotte Bobcats and the Philadelphia 76ers. His son, Jeff, is an assistant on Duke’s staff, and his son, Jason, played at UNC and now is an announcer on the ACC Network.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is no cure, and only one drug modestly extends survival by only a few months.

“We’re thrilled that the distinguished coaches at UNC and Duke would take advantage of this national platform to honor Coach Capel and his family as they fight ALS,” said Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of The ALS Association. “The Tar Heels and Blue Devils may be rivals on the court, but they’re willing to stand together in the search for treatments and a cure for ALS. Tonight, we’re all Tar Heels or Blue Devils!”

Capel, Jr., was diagnosed at the Duke ALS Clinic, which is one of the largest and most comprehensive ALS clinics in the world and is an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence. The ALS Association and its North Carolina chapter provide financial support for the clinic, which is led by Dr. Rick Bedlack.

“In an era when people seem more divided than ever before, it is refreshing to see rival Duke and UNC basketball coaches come together to fight ALS,” said Bedlack. “As Michael Jordan once said ‘talent wins games but teamwork wins championships.’ Talented people have helped us find a few symptomatic treatments for ALS, but it is only through collaboration and teamwork like this that we will find the cure.”

In the Duke ALS Clinic, patients with ALS see a multi-disciplinary team which includes a neurologist, speech therapist, nutrition therapist, respiratory therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist and social worker every time they come. This team presents options for maximizing quality of life, independence and safety. Bedlack also created a unique program called “ALSUntangled” (www.alsuntangled.org) which helps ALS patients and families scientifically review alternative therapies for ALS. These include things like bee stings, coconut oil, energy healing and nutritional supplements. The program has been nicknamed “the ALS X-files” and Bedlack “the Fox Mulder of ALS.”

About The ALS Association
The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at www.als.org.

About The ALS Association North Carolina Chapter
The ALS Association North Carolina Chapter serves families living with ALS in all 100 counties in North Carolina. The Chapter supports all of the multidisciplinary ALS clinics in the state, loans medical equipment free of charge, hosts 14 monthly support groups and provides financial assistance to families for ALS-related expenses. For more information, visit www.alsnc.org.

Ice Bucket Challenges
In 2014, the UNC and Duke basketball teams took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS. The phenomenon raised $115 million for the ALS Association and has had a noticeable impact on the research, including the discovery of NEK1, one of the most common ALS genes. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised $220 million globally.

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