What is Ann Arbor Active Against ALS (A2A3)?
Ann Arbor Active Against ALS (A2A3) is a grassroots, nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise funds for research toward effective treatments and ultimately a cure for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), while raising awareness of the disease, encouraging physical activity, and building a compassionate community.
Ann Arbor Active Against ALS was created by friends and colleagues of Ann Arbor residents Bob Schoeni and Gretchen Spreitzer to support finding a cure for ALS. Bob and Gretchen first moved to Ann Arbor in 1987 to attend graduate school. In 1992, Bob received his Ph.D. in economics and Gretchen received her Ph.D. in business, and they moved to Los Angeles to pursue their careers. They returned to Ann Arbor in 2001 with their two daughters and have lived here ever since, both teaching at the University of Michigan. Bob and Gretchen have been active in the Ann Arbor community in many ways, through their professional work, their school, their church and their neighborhood.
Bob has long been passionate about sports. In Ann Arbor, one of his favorite ways to be involved has been to coach his daughters’ sports teams through Rec and Ed. He has coached soccer, field hockey and baseball for the past six years, making for a total of twenty-three coaching seasons. Indeed, a large number of Ann Arbor girls call him, simply, “Coach Bob.”
In July 2008 Bob was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a disease that paralyzes the body but leaves the mind intact. Symptoms of ALS include twitching and cramping of muscles, impaired use of the arms and legs, weakness and fatigue, slurred or thick speech and difficulty breathing or swallowing.
Most ALS patients are in a wheelchair and using a ventilator within a few of years of diagnosis. Currently, there is no cure or effective treatment for ALS, although approximately 30,000 people throughout the United States have the disease. Initiatives to help fund ALS research are especially urgent because this research remains dramatically under-funded. Pharmaceutical companies have not invested their research dollars in ALS because they believe too few people suffer from this disease.
Today, thanks to millions of dollars raised through donations, non-profit organizing and government grants, there are on-going aggressive efforts to find a treatment or a cure as soon as possible. Scientists are optimistic that a discovery is literally around the corner. A single minute of research in such a lab costs approximately $100.00. In order to find a cure, continued funding for this research is crucial. Ann Arbor Active Against ALS will donate its funds to the most efficient and effective cure-driven ALS research institutions.
Please join A2A3 to support this important effort in finding a cure.
- Training for a Cure
Check out the red buttons on the right side of our page – A2A3 has coaches and mentors to support individuals in their goal to be active: run a marathon, start regular exercise, take up biking or yoga. Training for a Cure helps participants reach their goal, and encourages them to raise money for A2A3 through pledges for meeting that goal.
- Coaching for a Cure
That yellow button is for coaching-related activities. Each season, hundreds of volunteers coach teams throughout Ann Arbor and appreciative parents often collect money to offer their team coaches a gift. Coaching for a Cure makes information about ALS and about A2A3 available and lets people know that at a coach’s request, donations can be made to this non-profit. Coach Riyaz Kanji’s account of how his team has already made a difference can be read at this blog post, One Coach’s Story.
- Kids Active for a Cure
Kids are involved with many of our activities – but some events and activities are mainly for kids – find these at at the blue button. Check out the 25K Fitness Challenge for young runners. Or – A2A3 has coaches ready to work with children to plan a group activity – or to set a personal goal and accomplish it. Corporate sponsors have pledged their readiness to donate to A2A3 in support of children who meet their goal