Volunteers are the backbone of many non-profit organizations, and The ALS Association is no exception. Without the hard work and commitment of individuals around the country who graciously give their time to help support the ALS community, we would not be able to do what we do every day.
In recognition of National Volunteer Week, we are shining a spotlight on some of The ALS Association’s amazing, dedicated volunteers, and highlighting the incredible work they are doing to support our mission.
Jean Tracy in Minnesota lost her husband John to ALS in 2004. Now Jean volunteers her time helping Lola Adebiyi and her family, navigating daily tasks while providing support and friendship along the way.
"Being invited into the lives of those living with ALS is a privilege. Participating in the Volunteer Family Assistance Program is truly a silver lining to my family’s experience with ALS and a way to give back for all The ALS Association did for us. I cherish being Lola's friend and spending time with her. It's such a gift for me," she says.
When Melanie Thompson in Alabama lost her father to ALS at the age of just 61, she vowed to make it her mission to help end the disease. She now acts as a staunch ALS advocate with the Association, sharing her family’s story to help create awareness and push for change. “I told my dad during his last months of life that I would fight to end this terrible disease,” she says. “My reason for advocating is to bring awareness of this devastating disease and share our family story. We are grateful for The ALS Association’s guidance and support.”
After a friend’s father was diagnosed with ALS in 2010, Mike Koehler in Kansas City decided he wanted to get involved and make a difference. After more than 10 years of volunteering with the local Association team in KC, he was dubbed Volunteer Guru! “I keep volunteering because when you’ve seen how resilient the families are and what they must battle through while caring for their loved ones, you can’t help but want to be there to support any event that can help them,” he said.
Lynn Antheil in Florida joined an ALS support group after her husband, Dan, was diagnosed with bulbar onset ALS. Now, 10 years later, Lynn volunteers her time facilitating caregiver support groups in the state to help others navigate this difficult disease. Lynn says, “I wish I had a me when I went through this with my husband. It helps people [caregivers] realize you can get through this. There are many people there to help them get through this.”
Steve Greer in Virginia has been living with ALS for over five years. After his diagnosis, Steve dove right into the community becoming a passionate ALS advocate, fundraiser, and local Association board member. He spends his time volunteering and helping others who are also facing this disease because “ALS can rob you of many things but the one thing it can’t rob you of is hope,” he says.
Five junior members of the Saint Xavier High School Powerlifting team in Kentucky have been volunteering for the Association since late 2021 to earn service hours. Eager to tackle any project given to them, they continue to ask questions while working to learn more about the disease and the way it impacts people and their families. “These young men are learning the value and reward of volunteerism and philanthropy, and we’re truly grateful for all the help they provide the staff and people served by the Kentucky office in Louisville,” says John Coyne, ALS Association Managing Director of Volunteer Engagement.
After her father was diagnosed with ALS, Melissa Ochoa in Texas knew she wanted to get involved to help make a difference for the ALS community. Nine years later, she continues to give her time, doing whatever it takes to support the Association’s mission. “Every time I think about my dad, it drives me to want to do more to find a cure and keep people from dying due to ALS. My dad is my driving force behind all that I do with The ALS Association,” she says.
After losing her husband to ALS, Brandi Gore in Washington discovered her true passion for work and volunteering is using her talents and expertise in health care to make life more comfortable for people living with the disease. Since 2016 she has donated countless hours of her time alongside the Association’s local care team, assisting people with ALS with issues related to breathing and respiratory devices. “I love using my life’s work to connect with patients who have ALS and working to make the life they have more comfortable.”
While each volunteer’s “why” story is unique, they all share the common goal of making a difference in the lives of people living with ALS and their families in a way that is meaningful for them. Thank you to all of our volunteers working tirelessly behind the scenes to help support the ALS community, and for working with us to make ALS livable for everyone, everywhere, until a cure is found.
To learn more about how you can get involved in the fight against ALS, visit our website HERE.
To continue following stories about people living with ALS in the community and learn more about the disease, subscribe to receive our weekly blogs in your inbox HERE or follow us at als.org/blog.
Join the conversation. Please comment below.