ATHENS, Ala. — All across the Tennessee Valley on Saturday, families and organizations were raising awareness for ALS, also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling muscle movement.
Limestone County resident Thad Hebbe was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but before he found out he had it, he told News 19 he hadn’t even heard of the disease.
“When I was in the Clements High School marching band, our band director passed away from it in 1985, but I still didn’t know what it was,” Hebbe said.
“Since I’ve been diagnosed, it’s amazing the people that I have found that have been diagnosed and I share all the time I can with them, just talking,” he continued.
There is currently no cure for ALS and many doctors are not only trying to understand the disease, but find a way to stop its progression in their patients.
Hebbe is currently undergoing treatment in an attempt to slow down the progression of the disease, and still works as he can with his business, Thad Hebbe Heating and Air Conditioning.
“The doctor told me not to just go home and sit down, don’t over due it, but stay busy, so I do what I can,” Hebbe stated.
Hebbe is a fixture in the Limestone County community with people from all around the area coming together to support him.
“All the money we raise is going directly to the ALS Foundation of North Alabama and it’s just a great fundraising event,” Hebbe said. “I have seen people out here that I haven’t seen in years. It’s just like I said, mindboggling with the response we’ve gotten.”
The Hebbes are grateful for all of the communities’ support and they know without them they wouldn’t have gotten this far and Thad says for those fighting ALS, it’s all about your outlook on life.
Hebbe said he was tested for all five diseases that mimic ALS symptoms and was told he had three to five years to live.
“I said forget that we’re going to shoot for 10 to 20,” Hebbe told News 19.
As Hebbe said that with a big grin across his face, many from the community echoed that he’s not letting three to five years stop him, he’s doing all he can to not only help himself, but the ALS community.
While the family couldn’t be more thankful, there’s one this that keeps their family strong.
“Just a lot of support from your family, that helps a lot. We’ve had family meetings and all the kids have come and they’re very supportive and that helps,” His wife Susan said, “Faith and prayers, a higher power will always help you get through it.”
As the Hebbes soak in as much time, Thad said, “We’ve got our seventh grand baby on the way and we’re spending all the time we can with them. They’re naming him after me.”
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