HARRISBURG – State Senator Larry Farnese delivered the following floor remarks today in Harrisburg recognizing May 2011 as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Month in Pennsylvania:
“On behalf of Senator Orie and myself, I rise today to offer the following resolution recognizing the month of May, 2011 as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.
“Commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a devastating neurodegenerative disease. Each year in the United States, more than 5,500 people are diagnosed with ALS, with an estimated 30,000 Americans suffering from the disease at any point in time. Here in Pennsylvania, it is estimated that 1,200 people are currently combating the disease.
“ALS symptoms make living a “normal” life extremely difficult. Muscle weakness causes limb usage to be impaired and makes swallowing and breathing burdensome. A symptom known as “thick speech” makes it difficult for sufferers to project their voices and communicate as you and I would. As the disease progresses, many lose their ability to walk, gesture, speak and breathe on their own and ultimately, complete paralysis sets in.
“The average life expectancy of an ALS patient is between 2 and 5 years after diagnosis. This overwhelming disease affects people in the prime of their lives, as most diagnosed are 35 to 70 years of age.
“Lou Gehrig, one of the greats in baseball history, died from ALS in the prime of his life in 1941 at age 38. Seventy years later, we continue to search for a cure so that the thousands of ALS patients and families suffering from the devastation this disease brings will no longer face its inevitable outcome.
“I’d like to formally thank the ALS Association, particularly the Western Pennsylvania Chapter and Greater Philadelphia Chapter, for their daily efforts in research, education, advocacy and support. They stand at the front lines of this incurable disease, making strides every day to enhance the vitality of ALS patients who use their services to sustain longer and fuller lives.
“Enhancements to the treatment of ALS have been made over the years, allowing thousands of people to experience longer lives. But, a cure still eludes them. We must continue to advocate for additional research and technology assistance so we may finally witness the day when ALS sufferers can say, ‘I beat ALS. It didn’t beat me.'”