We are the Faith Walkers, inspired by Libby and led by her 3D’s: Dominique, Danielle, and Daniel Meeks. On Saturday October 24th 2015, we will be participating in a “Walk to Defeat ALS” in Richmond Virginia and are seeking your support to raise money for the ALS Association. This association funds research for a cure and provides comprehensive care and support for patients and their families. Please read our story below and consider aiding us in our fight.
On August 3rd 2013 Libbyann Burwell Meeks passed after fighting a 21 year bout with ALS. At the time of her diagnosis in September of 1991, Libby was already a mother of a 6 month-old baby girl. Despite the severity of her disease and the short life expectancy that her doctors had given her, Libby and her husband, Dwayne, refused to allow the diagnosis to disrupt their plans of growing a family.
Then, in December of 1998, Dwayne suffered a massive heart attack, and Libby found herself a widow faced with the task of raising her 3 small children alone. In spite of this disease and her husband’s untimely death, she remained a pillar of strength, the moral center of her family, and a community activist. Even while raising three children on her own and burdened by a terrible disease, Libby devoted herself to helping other single mothers through the Fresh Start program. Her family, friends, and all those close to her sought her out for her wisdom, advice, and support, which she never tired of giving.
We could fill a novel with stories exemplifying Libby’s remarkable resilience because her infectious smile and selfless spirit often overshadowed her pain and suffering. But the reality is this disease transformed the beautiful, strong, independent woman you see in the video above into a shell of herself, dependent on others to do life’s most mundane tasks. In the end, Libby’s family, more specifically her 3D’s, had to stand by and watch this disease run its course, as it does with every diagnosed patient: they were there by her through countless hospital stays, saw her suffer through her pain as her muscles deteriorated, and became her loving caretakers as her independence was stolen from her bit by bit.
To put Libby’s life into perspective for those unfamiliar with the disease, the average life expectancy is only 2-5 years after diagnosis. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S) is a degenerative neuromuscular disease that in time causes motor neurons to die. The death of these neurons prevents communication between the brain and the body’s skeletal muscles. This process robs the patient of crucial voluntary muscle functions, such as walking, talking, and eventually breathing. At this time, no cure or treatment known to stop the progression of this disease exists, and if you choose to donate to our cause, 60% of the proceeds will go directly to research grants and public education. The other 40% is aloted to fundraising, administration, and patient/community services—much of this funding goes to supplying patients with the care and equipment necessary for them to live the most independent and pain-free lives possible in the time that they have left. For Libby, this meant providing machines and other medical aids such as a continuous portable oxygen concentrator , hayek vest, and BiPAP ventilator (respiratory aids); a computer equipped with eye-gaze software (to help with communication and simple tasks); and a wheel chair. The association also provided knowledgeable experts who could refer her to other resources in the community.
Your help is greatly appreciated and will aid in the fight against this disease, both by funding research and providing support for patients and their families. Libby and the 3D’s were (and continue to be) grateful to the association for their invaluable assistance. For this reason, We Will Continue to Walk and Never Lose Faith.
- Greg McDoe
- Hannah Coleman
- Valerie Kling
- Nicholas Buseck
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