Ackerman Residents Rally Around Neighbor with ALS

September 11, 2015

 

by Jay Hobson

About 70 residents of the Ackerman Retirement Park and family members met Saturday, Aug. 22, at the Ackerman Park’s Community Center for an ice bucket challenge and ice cream social fundraiser to support one of their own, Theresa Kondrat, who suffers with ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain.

Theresa was diagnosed last year and has since lost her ability to speak and now walks with the aid of a walker.

They raised $1,241 for their neighbor’s cause.

“Our motto is ‘We are community strong,’ and we wanted to show support for Theresa,” said organizer and neighbor Eugene Anthony.

Theresa’s husband, Chuck, said that they were amazed at the turnout and show of support for his wife.

“We all took the ice bucket challenge, but Theresa couldn’t, so I cut out paper hearts and put them in a bucket and we pretended to dump ice and water on Theresa.  But it was just the hearts, and the breeze took them and they fluttered around and it was really nice,” said Eugene.

“She thought it was water, but (it) was just these paper hearts,” Chuck said.

According to Chuck, the money went to the ALS Foundation.

“That’s what we felt we wanted to do.  They help Theresa with a wheelchair and other ALS-related care,” he explained.

The Kondrats have lived in the park for 20 years, and Eugene and his wife, Martha have been there for three.  The Anthonys saw the need and wanted to do something for their neighbor.

“We got to know Theresa by meeting her at the mailbox, and we’ve seen how at first she didn’t seem to realize what was happening to her,” Eugene said.  “She told us of her problems with balance and the tests they were running and we got to know each other.

“She’s such a special person and, when she was diagnosed with ALS, we wanted to do something.  She could talk to us then, but now it’s progressed and she can’t speak to us anymore.”

As for Theresa, Chuck said that she has written on her small white board, which she uses to communicate, “I didn’t ask for this disease, no hope, no cure, and no light at the end of the tunnel.”

“And I told her that one day there will be a light at the end of the tunnel,” Chuck said.

Theresa has been told by her doctors and physical therapists that there is no more that can be done for her.

She writes on her board and holds it up, her contribution to the conversation, “It is a very rough journey and hard to stay positive.  Thank you for the ice bucket donations.  Someday soon I hope they will find a cure.”