July 22, 2009 | The Mountain Home Professional Fire Fighters Association donated more than $2,500 for ALS Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in honor of the wife of a local fire fighter who is battling the disease.
As is the case for more than 5,600 Americans diagnosed each year, Tim and Debra Chaney’s lives were forever changed when Debra was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in December 2006.
The terminal neurological disorder often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease” interrupted the couple’s normal family life with their two children, daughter Megan and son Gaige, now ages 12 and 6. Debra had to quit her job as a senior vice president at Bank of the Ozarks, and now uses a wheel chair.
During all this change, one unmovable rock has been the support of her husband and his colleagues at the Mountain Home Fire Department, who built handicap accessible ramps at the couple’s home. The group raised $2,572 for ALS research and presented it June 29 to Debra Chaney’s doctor, Stacy Rudnicki, M.D., professor of neurology in the UAMS College of Medicine and director of the MDA/ALS clinic.
“The support we’ve gotten from the firefighters, family and friends in Mountain Home has far exceeded anything we could have imagined,” Debra Chaney said. “It’s an honor to be able to share some of that kindness with UAMS to help further some of the extraordinary work they’re doing.”
The Mountain Home Professional Fire Fighters Association, local No. 4496 of the International Fire Fighters Association, raised the money at a paintball tournament fundraiser May 2.
“It’s a very generous gesture that their community has come together to help support Debra and her family and UAMS,” Rudnicki said. “In the grand scheme of things very little is known about ALS, and further research is paramount to finding better treatment options and possibly even prevention.”
Researchers are conducting studies to increase their understanding of genes that may cause the disease, mechanisms that can trigger motor neurons to degenerate in ALS, and approaches to stop the progress leading to cell death