Brett Martin: Linzi, some may not know exactly what ALS is, compared to forms of cancer. Can you tell me what it is and is it often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease?
Linzi: ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease robs people of the ability to walk, to talk and even blink an eye. It traps them inside a body they no longer can control and ultimately prevents them from breathing as it takes their life.
In 1939, New York Yankee baseball great Lou Gehrig brought ALS to national and international attention when he abruptly retired from baseball after being diagnosed with ALS. Since then, als has been most commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Brett: How many people suffer from Lou Gehrig's disease?
Linzi: Approximately 30,000 people in the U.S. and 450,000 worldwide have ALS at any given time.
Brett: What are the current treatments available for people with ALS?
Linzi: Currently, there is only one FDA-approved drug that modestly extends the life of those with ALS by a few months. However, there is reason for great hope on the horizon. Thanks to the ALS Association's research funding and the opportunities they provide for scientists to collaborate, promising treatments are in the pipeline. However, treatment development takes time, and time is something people with als don't have much of.
Brett: Many of you may know, their is a viral challenge going on over social media... Its called the Ice Bucket Challenge. Has the ALS Association seen an increase in awareness since it began?
Linzi: The Ice Bucket Challenge is quite literally "soaking" the nation and the ALS Association is thrilled at the level of awareness and dollars the challenge is generating. ALS has never before experienced this level of visibility across the nation, and we're so thankful to the thousands of people who've been doused with ice water and/or donated to fight this devastating disease.
Brett: So here's how it works. Once you are challenged, you have 24 hours to make a video while you pour a bucket of ice water over your head or make a donation. After you do the challenge, you challenge at least three people to do the same. Some of the biggest celebrities or just regular people are doing it. And its showing in the amount of donation so far right?
Linzi: So far, donations to the Association total $5.7 million compared to $1.2 million last year.
Brett: So we are going to do our part, I was challenged on Facebook to do this so in about ten minutes, we will step outside and do the ice bucket challenge.
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