ALS Awareness Month – May 2021

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ALS Awareness Month, which occurs every May, is a time where numerous organizations and communities get together to spread awareness regarding the disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This is important so that more and more people recognize the disease and understand how those with ALS can be helped. Here is all that you need to know about the month!

History of ALS Awareness Month

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rare neurological disease affecting nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement. Individuals with ALS experience a degeneration of their motor neurons, which causes the muscles to stop receiving the signals needed to function. After a certain time, the brain completely loses its ability to control voluntary movements, hence, people with ALS are unable to walk, move, or even breathe properly.

Considering the damage ALS can do, it became essential to spread the message regarding the disease so that people could treat it at an early stage. Though there is no cure for ALS, early detection can help in improving the quality of life of those with the disease. In 1985, the ALS Association, a nonprofit organization created for those with ALS, was formed. The ALS Association’s aim was to enhance the quality of life of patients with ALS and also pave the way for research regarding ALS treatment and cure.

In May 1992, a resolution was passed by the United States Senate to appoint May as National Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Awareness Month. Since then, every year numerous charity events and programs that focus on providing information regarding the disease have put in a great effort to bring attention in the U.S. to the existence of ALS. The events also promote the need for more funds and investment in researching for a cure for the disease. The ALS Association also created a U.S. postage stamp in 2008 to promote ALS Awareness Month.

ALS Awareness Month timeline

1869
The Disease is Identified

French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovers the disease.

1939
Brought to the Forefront

Yankees player Lou Gehrig develops the disease.

1963
A Tragic Diagnosis

Stephen Hawking is diagnosed with ALS.

1993
The First ALS Gene

The first ALS gene called SOD1 is discovered.

ALS Awareness Month FAQs

What color ribbon is for ALS?

Ribbons with white and navy/blue pinstripes (in honor of Lou Gehrig) are used for the representation of ALS.

Can you get ALS at 30?

Though most of the cases occur at the age of 40–70, there are some rare cases of ALS being diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s. 

Is there any hope for ALS patients?

As of now, there is no cure for ALS.

How to Observe ALS Awareness Month

  1. Donate to charity

    To directly impact the lives of those with ALS, donate some money to the organizations working for the cause.

  2. Wear a ribbon

    Numerous special days have designated colors since this is one of the easiest ways to promote a cause. Distribute white ribbons with navy stripes around your neighborhood to spread the message about ALS.

  3. Hold a small educational event for your community

    This can be done in your backyard or any spacious area. Make a simple PowerPoint presentation and speak about the risks of ALS and the donations required for affected people to lead better lives.

Five Interesting Facts About ALS

  1. A 2016 report

    The Center For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 14,000 to 15,000 Americans have ALS.

  2. Gender plays a role

    ALS is more likely to develop in males.

  3. The physicist with ALS

    Stephen Hawking had ALS for 55 years.

  4. The need for intimacy remains

    ALS does not affect one's sexual drive.

  5. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

    In 2014, over 1.2 million videos of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge were shared on Facebook.

Why ALS Awareness Month is Important

  1. It educates

    The month needs to be celebrated every year since it helps in educating millions of people about ALS and how common it is in the U.S.

  2. It helps collect funds

    ALS Awareness Month brings to light the suffering of those with the disease and the organizations that are working towards a cure. Hence, May is the time when most donations for ALS are collected.

  3. It motivates people to do research

    The awareness month inspires scientists and researchers to find out more about the disease and work towards developing a cure.

ALS Awareness Month dates

YearDateDay
2021May 1Saturday
2022May 1Sunday
2023May 1Monday
2024May 1Wednesday
2025May 1Thursday