By Jen Hjelle and John Hedstrom
Urgency is a core value at The ALS Association. As Chapter Executives, we feel it every day. It powers our commitment to help people with ALS live longer and better lives. And it drives us to provide better care services today with the hope of a cure tomorrow. Your help, time and financial donations make this urgent work possible. We can’t wait for this pandemic to be over to continue serving and supporting our communities.
Here are 7 things you can do right now to support people living with ALS.
1: Volunteer at Your Local Chapter
Chapters depend on volunteers who are as tireless as the disease itself. There’s always a way to pitch in. You can volunteer to sit on a board, roll up your sleeves and help with a Walk, staff the phones, help around the office when it’s safe again to do so, or simply be a friend or companion to someone living with ALS. For now that might mean simply picking up a telephone or finding a socially safe way to do tasks for a family such as grocery runs or errands. We’ve had volunteers ￼shovel snow from driveways, ghostwrite autobiographies, and even know a brother and sister who spent countless hours cataloging a comic collection for someone’s grandkids. Every chapter is different but we’re all looking for help. Contact your local chapter and ask how you can volunteer today.
2: Join a Walk to Unlock ALS
You won’t regret it. Walks to Defeat ALS and other events are some of the most rewarding ways you can support people with ALS, even in their current socially safe “virtual” iterations. They always have a great community feel – even when they’re experienced online- and you’ll meet some truly inspiring people. Click this link to find your nearest Walk. And visit your local chapter website to attend other distinguished events like (virtual) gala dinners to golf tournaments.
3: Host Your Own Event
Have your own idea to raise funds and awareness for the fight against ALS? You can set up your own event through our One Dollar Difference program. This tool can help you set up a website, offers practical tips and advice on securing donations, and can help you access branded materials to make your event stand out. We’ve seen and taken part in some really memorable third-party events in our time. From paella nights to rodeo, you can use your passions to inspire others to participate and help in our fight against ALS. Our advice: Make it creative. Make it personal. Do what you love and ask your friends to join you in raising funds and awareness.
4: Start a Facebook Fundraiser
Speaking of fundraising, did you know The ALS Association inspired the development of Facebook Fundraisers? The viral success of the Ice Bucket Challenge prompted Facebook to create the digital feature as a way to promote individual philanthropy. A Facebook Fundraiser is one of the quickest, easiest, and most effective ways to raise money to help fund treatments and a cure for ALS. Getting started is easy. With just a few clicks, you can create and share your own fundraiser to support your family, friends, and the ALS community. Check out our simple guide on how to create your own.
5: Donate Your Way
Your generous donations are what power the transformational research and deliver on our mission to serve, advocate for, and empower people affected by ALS to live their lives to the fullest. There are multiple ways you can donate and encourage others to do likewise.
For example, every chapter website has a donate button on their homepage. These gifts can be donated in loving memory to relatives lost to ALS. They serve as poignant reminders of why our work matters and why we can’t wait to find a cure. Planned gifts that include The Association in estates can also be set up in several ways. And while we do sometimes receive larger transformational gifts, nearly 90% of all donations we receive each year are $100 or less. Every little bit helps.
If you want to make a donation or learn more about your options, please click here, or call your local chapter. Someone will always be able to answer your question.
6: Set Up a Corporate Partnership
Companies and businesses are needed in the fight to cure ALS, too. And not just through a matching gift program that your organization might already be a part of. Donations are always welcome, but the camaraderie of volunteering with your colleagues can be just as valuable. In Massachusetts, several companies set up their own Walk Teams each year. It’s the same in Minnesota. Our ALS communities can expand as far as our imaginations. So reach out to your colleagues and co-workers. Come up with some ideas on how you’d like to help. Then contact your chapter representative, or the Association’s national office, to bring those ideas to life. We can’t wait to hear from you.
7: Tell Congress to Act
Each year, our chapters join with volunteer advocates and visit Washington, DC to meet with elected officials and lobby for the urgent policies that will expand the access and funding that can improve the lives of people living with ALS and their caregivers. Those who can’t make the trip, however, still find ways to make an impact and lead the fight on the frontlines. And so can you.
Visit the ALS Association’s Advocacy Action Center to learn about our priorities, share information about laws and policies, and tell your congressperson to act with the click of a button. You can even join our mailing list to receive action alerts and other critical information to become a dedicated advocate for ALS.
It will take all of us, together, to end ALS. Will you join the fight?
Jen Hjelle is Executive Director at ALS Association MN/ND/SD Chapter. John Hedstrom is Executive Director at ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter. This post is the third in a series where ALS Association leaders share their perspective on the urgent need to advance our mission during the current pandemic, and the ways you can get involved.