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Highlighting Southwestern Pennsylvania's ALS Clinics

Luke Torrance
90.5 WESA

“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. That I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

These were the words of baseball legend Lou Gehrig from his iconic 1939 speech, which has become a part of his legacy as much as his consecutive games played record and the disease named after him.

75 years later, there is still no known cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Living with the disease is still difficult as Larry Jacknin, a Pittsburgh native with ALS, can attest. He discussed the changes in his life since being diagnosed.

“It got to the point where I just couldn’t work. That was a major shift because I’d always been in a role of giving, to my family. This Tree of Life (pictured) is very representative of what happened, because you go to a giving state to a receiving state. That was actually very hard for me to ask for help. But what I discovered is, especially in Pittsburgh, is that people love to help you.”

Also on the program to discuss ALS was Merritt Spier, Executive Director of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the ALS Association. She talked about several local clinics that specialized in ALS.

“There are in western Pennsylvania three clinics that specialize in ALS. Allegheny General Hospital, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and the clinic at AGH is about to become the only certified center of excellence in western Pennsylvania. There is a lot of practicing medicine out there and research going on but it still remains a very difficult disease to diagnose.”

Jacknin and his wife, Debbie, will be holding a benefit for the ALS Association Western PA chapter on May 30 from 3-6pm at the Pittsburgh Public Market. Tickets can be purchased here.

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