A lot of wonderful things have been going on with my ALS work! After finishing off a great summer of fighting ALS, I am continuing my studies as a sophomore at Drake University. I consider my classes and homework a part of my ALS work because they are preparing me for a career as an ALS researcher. I am taking challenging classes like organic chemistry and statistics this semester. I put my best into every aspect of my studies and focus on learning so that I may use this information to help put an end to ALS one day. I have also been speaking to more classes at Drake University this semester! I speak about the disease and how Drake students can help defeat ALS. Many people my age think they are too young to help find a cure for the disease, but that is not true! They do not have to be scientists spending hours in the lab conducting ALS research or donate thousands of dollars to make a difference in the ALS community. Students can make a huge impact by just getting involved with local ALS organizations like the ALS Association Iowa Chapter! I have already spoken to 8 classes and plan on speaking to more every week for the rest of the semester. I am very thankful for the kind professors at Drake who have let me speak to their classes.
I am very excited for some future speaking engagements at schools in the Chicagoland area. I will be speaking at Nathan Hale Middle School in Crestwood about ALS on October 10th and Hamlin Upper Grade Center in Alsip on October 14th. I am focusing on speaking about ALS at middle schools because the 8th grade students are close to 14 years of age; I was 14 when I decided to devote my life to fighting ALS. I want to send a message to the middle schoolers that they are never too young to dream big and make a difference in the world! I met with the Nathan Hale Middle School science faculty in July to make sure my ALS presentation flows smoothly with their science curriculum. I am really looking forward to sharing my passion for fighting ALS with my community. In December, I will be heading back to my high school (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy) to speak to the students about ALS and my mission to end the disease. Speaking at IMSA will be quite different than speaking at other schools because IMSA is at the very heart of my mission to end ALS. I am very nervous just thinking about speaking to students at IMSA, but I know with Dr. McLaren in my heart, I can give an amazing speech. I always find the strength to do the toughest things through Dr. McLaren. I cannot even begin to describe how excited I am to bring my ALS work to more schools this semester! I absolutely love teaching others about ALS and my mission to end the disease.
I am also setting up more time in the lab so that I can continue my research. Conducting research is one of my favorite parts of my ALS work! I am looking forward to attending more support groups this semester and the October 4th Des Moines Walk to Defeat ALS. I am praying for beautiful weather the day of the Walk. It was FREEZING last year! I also have a new logo for Sarah’s Mission. Check it out below. I want to thank a very talented IMSA senior, Puja Mittal, for designing this. I think it is absolutely perfect and truly symbolizes the fight against ALS by taking the shape of a human brain. I have also been thinking of ways to get the public involved with Sarah’s Mission. One idea that has been on my mind these past few weeks involves local middle schools making blankets for people with ALS in the Chicagoland area. I think it would be a fabulous way to help people with ALS stay warm and show them they are loved. It would also help show younger students that little things really can make a difference in the fight against this wretched disease. I will keep the public posted on this project.
I want to thank everyone – my family, friends, the Drake University and IMSA communities, and others around the world – for the wonderful support every single day. I am looking forward to a fabulous semester of fighting ALS!