This week, I got the wonderful news that I will be speaking to the students at Independence Junior High School about ALS. I am thrilled to bring my passion for fighting ALS to my former school where I first discovered my love for science. Two of my brothers who attend the school will even be in the crowd! It will be a fabulous way to teach younger students about this disease. Perhaps they will be inspired to take action against ALS themselves! Just thinking about getting up in front of the students terrifies me, but I know with Dr. McLaren’s courage in my heart, I will be able to give a wonderful presentation on ALS. We have not established an exact date yet, but I will definitely be speaking after I return home for the summer. It is my hope that I will be able to speak at other middle schools in the area about ALS during the fall.
On top of being able to tell my story to a younger audience, this Tuesday, my ALS story will be featured in the Times-Delphic, the newspaper for Drake University. The interview for this piece was conducted a few weeks ago and during this conversation, I was able to share many great things about my passion for fighting ALS and my friendship with Dr. McLaren. I spoke about my favorite moments with him and felt extremely empowered to keep fighting the disease. I love being able to share my passion for fighting ALS with others and cannot wait for the Drake community to read about my ALS story!
Besides this, Cure 90/90 in Chicago is less than two weeks away – May 14th! I am very, very excited for this event! In past years, I have been able to share my story with people walking by in the city and I hope I can continue that this year. If you do not know about this event, it is held at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. Local artists create paintings of sunflowers (the symbol of hope for those fighting ALS) and they are displayed around the plaza for people walking by to see. My heart always feels warm when I see Chicagoans from all walks of life taking a few moments to appreciate the beauty of these sunflower paintings and to learn more about ALS. I truly cannot wait for this wonderful event!
Another event that is soon approaching is the 2014 Walk to Defeat ALS. This is my favorite day of the year! It keeps getting closer and closer. I love meeting everyone that comes for the Walk. I am praying for some warm Chicago weather for the walk this year, so more people can participate in this wonderful event.
Besides these events, my assistive device for people with ALS is really coming along! I am constantly thinking about ways I can improve the device. I will be sitting at work or in class and have to take out paper to sketch out ideas. I am itching to start building this device in my garage as soon as I return home for the summer. I am also confirming a position in a cell and molecular biology research laboratory at Drake for the next school year! I am looking forward to spending time improving laboratory techniques that will help me with my ALS research in the future.
As usual, I am lucky enough to still talk to Dr. McLaren every day through email and letters. I receive updates from his wife, but I cannot wait to visit him in person after I return home and see how he is doing. Hopefully his book project will be coming along! I am looking forward to sharing the ALS work I have done in the past few months with him and my hope for the future and show him what he has inspired.