Why I Walk to Defeat ALS
After high school, I enlisted in the Air Force and had an adventurous 4 years in southern Italy and Northern California. I then enrolled at UW-Milwaukee, graduating with a degree in International Relations. After a brief stint with the U.S. Information Agency, I ended up back with my former college employer, Gilbert Liquor, in Milwaukee. I stayed in the spirits business for the next 50 years. I retired from Kroger’s Metro Market in August, 2017.
Several years before retirement I had begun to notice a rigidity in my legs which caused me to freeze up and which slowed my pace considerably. I was subsequently diagnosed with Vascular Parkinsonism, because I didn’t have the typical essential tremors. That was followed by the gradual loss of upper body strength. When an EMG was ordered the ALS diagnosis was made. During this time the ongoing weakening required, first, the use of a cane, then a walker for both in and outside, then a transport chair or wheelchair.
"As time goes on, there has been increasing difficulty in eating, bathing, dressing and other daily activities." John shares.
The ALS Association Wisconsin Care Services program has provided me with various kinds of devices to cope with the changing symptoms of my condition: support group meetings, transport chair, transfer board for bathtub, specialty dining utensils, all at no cost. I have participated in the Multi-disciplinary clinic at Froedtert Hospital and now at the VA, thanks to my military service. Oddly enough, 2 people with The ALS Association Wisconsin, David Ferrie and Erin Maddox, I had known in years past. It's funny how life brings things back around to us when we need them the most.
My daughter Sarah and her husband Matt organized friends to support the Milwaukee Walk to Defeat ALS held at State Fair Park last year. We managed to raise over $700 plus another $500 thru efforts of my stepdaughter in Atlanta, GA. My wife Linda and our families continue to support me throughout this journey, and I know I have my team at The ALS Association in Wisconsin behind me, as well. Everyone on the team has been very helpful to me as I travel through this new and somewhat frightening experience. At my age, 78, I don’t expect to see a cure for ALS in my lifetime but hope for the future remains strong.
"Someday this will be beaten. Thanks to all of the staff, volunteers and supporters like you who make our lives a little more bearable."
I look forward to attending the Milwaukee Walk to Defeat ALS® at Greenfield Park this year, and I hope you will too. Taking steps together is the one key we all share in our goal to Unlock ALS, keep hope alive and keep the programs and service The ALS Association provides going for me and for everyone who needs them.