Steve's Journey To Fight ALS

Wednesday, April 16th 2014 changed our family forever. Steve Garrelts, father of Stephen, Gabriella, Marcus and Vannessa, beloved husband, son, and brother was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Disease). For those of you who are unfamiliar with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, it is a neurodegenerative disease in which the nerve cells are affected. Specifically, in the brain and the spinal cord. Currently, there is NO cure and it is 100% fatal. Most ALS diagnosed patients have 2-5 years’ life expectancy. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons will eventually lead to their death. Transitively, the brain’s ability to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.
Before being diagnosed with ALS, my father was an active, physically fit, hardworking, adventurous, energetic man. He is an outstanding business man; as seen in ownership of his own plumbing business. For as long as I can remember he was the coach my siblings and I looked up too; He taught us everything he knows… from riding a bike… to going on runs at 6 AM… to reeling in the perfect fish. And everything in between. He has always wanted to be a part of his children’s lives as well the best husband and father he could possibly be. Let me tell ya, he has done and amazing job doing so and continues to.
My dad's ALS progression has affected his respiratory muscles and most of his arm and leg movement. He has lost the ability to walk. He is able to breathe on his own but it is a struggle. Throughout the day he uses a biPap, a machine to help him breathe, as well as every night to be able to breathe while he sleeps. He is still able to speak but is short of breath most of the time. My dad is definitely a talker so we are blessed he still has this ability!
With very limited, close to nothing, availability in the United States, my parents and our family are always searching for alternative treatments to stop the progression of his ALS. But, nothing in the medical world is cheap. Medical insurance does not cover experimental treatment nor treatment in foreign estates. Despite paying for his children’s continued education, ALS has been a toll financially.
My dad is the strongest fighter I have ever seen; he has shown us to never give up nor will his family ever give up on him. For those of you who know my father, you know he is a courageous, loving, strong, hopeful, incredible man that deserves the world. He would help those he loves and cares about before himself in a heartbeat.
My family and I are reaching out to everyone to help support my father and his fight to defeat ALS. We leave it to hope and our faith to get us through this journey. We hope you all can help us on this journey as well to achieve a future without ALS.


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Organizer and beneficiary

Gabriella Garrelts 
Spring Grove, IL
Evelyn Garrelts 
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