ALS Stories

Bill Groom, Team Challenge ALS Champion

Bill Groom Sharon Johnson

If not now, when?

 I met Sharon Johnson and her husband Bill, at a friend's daughter's wedding in June 2014.  Although I knew Bill was a Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor, I did not know, until that evening, that Sharon had been diagnosed with ALS in March of 2013.  That evening had an incredible impact on me. 

 We talked for nearly 90 minutes; I was totally oblivious to the wedding festivities happening around us.  As I listened, learned and observed, it was incredible to see how much inner strength Sharon had.  This beautiful, vibrant, intelligent woman's life, and that of her entire family, had been turned upside down.  She was fighting her best to maintain a lifestyle of her choosing, rather than accepting that which ALS dictates, all the while knowing the enormity of the challenge ahead.  I also observed Bill tending to Sharon's needs, since she was now confined to a wheelchair.  He was personable, strong and stoic.  I could only imagine how much their lives had changed in the last 18 months.  I also could not help but think - the "script" given to them could be handed to any of us.  

 Although I felt terrible about their situation, I also knew that feelings alone, without action, were not helpful to anyone.  I decided then to take action and take an active role in the Ride to Defeat ALS.  In doing so, I felt I could do something to positively impact the lives of Sharon and Bill, as well as other dear friends of mine who lost their daughter to ALS five years ago.   Participating in, and fundraising for, the Ride to Defeat ALS has allowed me to transform my love for cycling into a way that directly helps people with ALS and their caregivers.  I am eager to recruit more and more riders to join our team and I am proud to have involved Merrill Lynch as a corporate sponsor.

 Opportunities are around us all the time. I feel grateful that I embraced the opportunity at that wedding.  It made me realize that I can make a difference, now, in the lives of families across Florida.

REGISTER HERE to join our challenge today!   #TeamChallengeALS




Lindsay Roland, Team Challenge ALS Champion

Lindsay Roland's Family Collage

My Dad

 My dad, Jim, was diagnosed with ALS in August 2014.  His symptoms started with a twitch in his arm and after about a full year meeting with several neurologists they ruled out every other possibility to determine it was ALS. 

 Nearly a month before his diagnosis we had a big family trip booked to Europe.  We weren't sure what was next for my dad, but as we left to head out overseas with this pending diagnosis looming over our motto for the trip was "Carpe Diem" or "Seize the day"!  Looking back, this was one of the best times I’ve had with my family and we certainly lived life to the fullest on that trip.

 Now that it has been almost two years since my dad was diagnosed this motto still seems to hold true.  ALS is a tough disease and the most difficult part is the unknown road ahead.  Fortunately the disease has progressed at a slower pace for my dad and the biggest area affected at this time are his arms, although he does still have limited use of them.  I have been very proud to watch my dad’s fight. He decided early on that this disease will not stop him.  My mom and dad are constantly sharing stories with us about difficulties they’ve run into with the disease, but the best part is, more times than not, the story ends in a laugh.  They try not to take things too seriously and just live one day at a time. 

 After the diagnosis I reached out to the ALS organization to learn about the opportunities available to join the fight against ALS.  I participated in the Walk to Defeat ALS first and then was drawn to the Ride To Defeat ALS as I enjoy new challenges and endurance events.  I have been a runner for several years, but riding is new for me. Last year I completed the 5k and the 25 mile ride.  This year my goal is the 5k and the 62 mile ride!  Being a part of such wonderful events has enabled me to feel like I can do my part to fight for some of those who can’t.  I’m thankful my family has had such wonderful support from the ALS Association and that’s all possible because of events like these.  Please join me in the fight today and REGISTER HERE!  #TeamChallengeALS