HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The 20th annual ALS Walk is set for October 24th. Even the Covid-19 virus can’t stop the fight against this disease.
Remember Rick Isaacs? He was a fighter.
Rick was an engineer and program manager at Sikorsky for 33 years, building helicopters like the Blackhawk and even Marine One, the president’s ride.
“That was kinda my life and I thought it was my calling,” Rick told me several years ago. But his mission got much bigger when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS in 2013.
“A day doesn’t go by that I’m not doing something for ALS. It’s what keeps me going. It’s my purpose in life,” he said, “And quite frankly, I enjoy it.”
Rick spent his time raising awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“I’m going to enjoy life and it’s different and some of it really stinks but I try to ignore the bad and enjoy the good,” he said.
Rick traveled coast to coast speaking, offering support and advice to others who were fighting the battle. Rick’s wife Cindy and the “Team Rick” family loved the time they had with him raising money for research to find a cure for the disease that would eventually take him from them three years ago.
“To be honest with you after he passed, I was just wiped out. I had to find out who I was,” Cindy told me from her home, “I mean, when you’ve been married almost shy a month of 40 years, I kinda had to figure out who I was and what I was going to do.”
The decision was easy. “Covid hit and I thought, oh my goodness, how can I give up now,” she said, “And I knew Rick wouldn’t give up so it was just like okay, we can do this.”
She’s continuing Ricks’ fight and reaching out to other ALS patients and their families. “So many of them said, oh, Cindy Isaacs. I remember Rick. He was awesome. He spoke to me at the clinic when my husband was first diagnosed, we didn’t know what to do. Oh, I saw his video,” Cindy said with a smile, “I thought, how could I stop helping this organization. There are so many good people that need our help.”
When I told her I thought Rick would be happy that she is continuing his work, she smiled again and said, “Oh, I feel his strength every day when I do things like that.”
Cindy is contacting teams for this year’s 20th annual Walk to Defeat ALS. “There are so many great things the organization can do but they need funding to help that quality of life,” she said.
Because of the pandemic, the event is moving online. That has been challenging. “Yes, it definitely has been,” Victoria Rutledge told me. She’s the Director of Development for the ALS Association – Alabama Chapter. “I think it’s been a great way for us to all grow, stretch ourselves and get out of our comfort zones and utilize some different tools,” she said.
The Alabama Chapter is using social media to raise awareness and money. “It’s hard this year because Covid has affected so many people financially,” Victoria added. But they can’t give up the fight.
“There has been recently, in early September, the results of a clinical trial were released of a drug that really looks promising for reducing the symptoms and progression of ALS as well as not having side effects that are detrimental to the patient while they’re taking the drug,” Victoria told me.
That work is funded by your donations. “Researchers are so close,” Cindy said, “So I’m praying that I’ll see a cure in my lifetime.” We all do.
To donate or register for the Walk to Defeat ALS, just click on the link.