Cambridge, MA (PRWEB) April 30, 2014
The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) announced today that it has added four new representatives to be ambassadors of its Young Faces of ALS (YFALS) campaign: Patrick Quinn from Yonkers, NY; Sarah Coglianese from San Francisco, CA; Teresa Thurtle from Las Vegas, NV; and Matthew Bellina from Skillman, NJ. Quinn, Coglianese, Thurtle, and Bellina were chosen for their commitment to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and for their dedication to foster a community where young people affected by the disease can find support and get involved to help end ALS.
The YFALS program is driven by several ALS patients diagnosed with the disease before or around the age of 30, along with family members and friends of people living with ALS. The young men and women selected to lead the campaign are called “YFALS Ambassadors,” and together they participate in awareness campaigns via the YFALS Facebook page, YFALS website, and within their communities. Additionally, these ambassadors hope to encourage greater action to support on-going drug development at ALS TDI, which has the sole mission to discover and develop effective treatments for ALS patients today.
The four new ambassadors added to the program embody the spirit and goal of the YFALS campaign:
- Patrick Quinn from Yonkers, NY was diagnosed with ALS on March 8, 2013 at age 30. He founded “Quinn for the Win” to create ALS awareness and raise funds through various public events. Currently, he is gathering his community to participate in the YFALS National Corntoss Challenge in New York on Saturday, June 14.
- Sarah Coglianese from San Francisco, CA was diagnosed in 2012 at age 33. She is a writer who was featured in the New York Times about raising a daughter to overcome any challenge, when she is faced with limitations from the progression of her ALS.
- Teresa Thurtle from Las Vegas, NV lost her father and grandmother to ALS. She is a US Air Force veteran and currently lives in Arlington, VA. She co-founded Bottoms Up 2 Down ALS in support of ALS TDI and organized the YFALS National Corntoss Challenge in Washington D.C. which will take place on Saturday, May 17.
- Matthew Bellina from Skillman, NJ was diagnosed with ALS in April 2014 at age 30. He is a US Navy Lieutenant Commander (Select) who began his career in Naval Aviation flying the EA6B Prowler. He currently is living in Philadelphia, PA with his wife and two young sons, ages 2 ½ years and 7 ½ months. He wants to teach his sons to camp, throw a baseball, build a fire and kayak along with many of his other interests. He is committed to being present to successfully fight and beat this devastating disease.
Quinn, Coglianese, Thurtle and Bellina join 10 other YFALS ambassadors: Alex Grausnick from Shoreview, MN; Alyssa Reardon from Plantation, FL; Corey Reich from Piedmont, CA; Ian Hogg from Birmingham, AL; Katie Shambo from Merrimack, NH; Kelly Hilinski from Sherman Oaks, CA; Kevin Swann from Chicago, IL; Kristen Sauer from Waupun, WI; Kristin Quinn from Arlington, VA; and Sam Ketchum from Newton, MA.
In 2010, YFALS Ambassadors participated in several 4ALS Day events at MLB® ballparks, and in 2011, the campaign expanded to include a national “Corntoss Challenge” in cities nationwide.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to paralysis, due to the death of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. There is no known cure for the disease. About 5,000 people in the US are diagnosed with ALS each year; the incidence is similar to multiple sclerosis. However, with no effective treatment, the average patient survives only 2-5 years following diagnosis. While exact figures are unknown, it is estimated that there are about 30,000 people in the US diagnosed with ALS today. The worldwide population of ALS patients is estimated at 450,000.
About ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI)
The mission of the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is to discover and develop effective treatments for ALS patients today as soon as possible. ALS TDI is the world’s largest independent ALS/MND drug development-focused nonprofit organization. In addition to more than 30 internal therapeutic aimed programs, the world’s first nonprofit biotech partners with dozens of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide in order to advance potential treatments into the clinic. Its lead ALS therapeutic candidate, Novartis’ (Switzerland) Gilenya (TDI-132), is in Phase 2A clinical trial for ALS. For more information on its drug development programs, visit http://www.als.net.