Florida ALS Community:
One year ago, I joined The ALS Association Florida Chapter as its new President and CEO. It’s hard to believe time has gone by so fast - but what a ride it has been! As excited as I was to come to The ALS Association, I find myself even more enthusiastic as I consider our prospects for the future.
I have traveled thousands of miles over the past 12 months and want to thank so many of you for taking time to talk with me. I’ve learned what we are doing well, where we can improve and the many challenges that still exist. Those conversations helped shape and sharpen my vision for the organization. We’ve assembled a team of professionals that is committed to doing everything we can to meet the growing needs in this state.
Earlier this month, we announced that the Phil Smith Neuroscience Institute at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale was named the state’s newest Certified Center of Excellence. They are the 5th Certified Center in Florida, joining the teams at the University of Miami, Mayo Clinic, UF Health Jacksonville and University of South Florida. The Florida Chapter also is actively partnering or in discussions with the ALS clinics at Lee Health, Orlando Health, Sarasota Memorial Hospital and University of Florida in Gainesville. All of these relationships enhance the care available to those affected by ALS around the state.
Back in September, I was fortunate to bring a delegation of Florida Chapter volunteers to Tallahassee to meet with Rep. Travis Cummings, Rep. MaryLynn Magar, Sen. Aaron Bean and several other members of the Florida legislature. We talked about the key role that the state of Florida needs to play to ensure those living with ALS have access to multidisciplinary care. Thanks in large part to these legislative champions, the House & Senate submitted a budget to the Governor that includes an $800,000 appropriation for the Bitner Plante ALS Initiative. This represented a significant increase over the previous year and will serve as a lifeline for the 1,500+ families who are affected by ALS.
Our path forward in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis is not certain. Like most organizations, we need to identify new ways to support and interact with our community. But, this country has always proven to be strongest during times of great challenge. And I believe there is simply no obstacle we can’t overcome together.
Thank you for your support during my first year with The ALS Association Florida Chapter and for your continuing commitment to our mission.