Our story actually started on a warm fall afternoon in September of 2001. After 2 months of seeing about a dozen different doctors and other medical professionals, and more tests than one can imagine, Alan Alderman sat in a small examination room of a local neurologist. The doctor had just finished an EMG and asked if he could be excused for a minute. What was I to say? No? He stepped out of the room and I sat there alone on the examination table for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a few short minutes.
When he returned to the room, he sat on the small rolling stool and rolled up in front of me. He looked me in the eyes, placed his hands on my knees, and said, “Alan, I believe you have ALS”. Like many people, I had heard about ALS, it had even come up as a possibility during the appointments leading up to that day, but I knew little more than it was also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I asked the doctor what that meant and he proceeded to tell me about the disorder. The main things that I heard were, there were no real effective treatments, there was no known cure, and that I had 2-5 years left to live! What? How could that be? I was only 40 years old, had 3 young children, was in a career that I loved, and had never had any kind of prior health conditions! Needless to say I was shocked, angry and felt extremely helpless!
Over the next week or so, I came to terms with the news. If such a thing is possible… But then I determined that I had to do something. I wasn’t just going to lay down and die! ALS might take my life, but it would not take it without a fight! Thus began my journey with ALS. A journey that had been a challenge every step of the way, but like many of this life’s challenges, it has come with many wonderful and life altering experiences.
Fast forward 16 years and I’m sitting at home one evening and I get an email from my dear friend Tim Ryan. Tim was a friend before my diagnosis and has been one of my biggest supporters since. He has given generously to my many fundraising efforts. His email says that he has an idea for a fundraising effort and wants to know if I will help him. He tells me that he wants to row across the Atlantic Ocean and then proceeds to tell me about the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. He asks me if I think it is a viable fundraising thing and if I will help him organize an event. I responded that yes, I thought that it would be a great fundraising event and that I would help him under one condition… that I was in the boat with him rowing across the Atlantic too!
Thus began this latest chapter of my story. Row4ALS is a team made up of six determined friends rowing to raise awareness and funds for research for this horrible disease! Our goal is to help find a cure and rid the world of ALS. My personal goal is to not only do that but also show that a diagnosis of ALS is not the end, it is but the beginning of a journey that has challenges, but also many great blessings. ALS may end my life, but it will not destroy it! Together we will row across the Atlantic Ocean and continue to row until we have found a cure!