July 25, 2005
It's a disease without a cure, or a known cause, and it kills thousands of people each year. This weekend, wine was actually helping to find a cure.
Champaign chilling on ice, plenty of food and people to entertain, but this wasn't just any summer wine tasting party, this was a fight for a cure.
The Richard Vart ALS Clinic at the University of Virginia and the ALS Foundation joined together to have a wine tasting benefit fundraiser for ALS, better know as Lou Gehrigs Disease.
"It's a fatal disease. It is without a cure. We have some treatments to try to modify the disease, and to try to improve quality of life [of those living with] the disease, but we don't have a cure," explained one doctor attending the benefit.
There is no cure or known reason why people contract this disease, but doctors have some medications to help those living with ALS. Dr. Ted Burns, Neurologist at The R.V. ALS Clinic, says it is a very trying disease for many to live with.
"Patients get progressively weaker the arms and legs get weak and speaking and swallowing muscles get weak and the breathing muscles get weak, " said Burns. "It's a fatal disease."
It's a disease that Patty Vart, event chair, is familiar with. In 1999, her brother Richard Vart died from the Disease. She has since helped with the clinic named in his honor at UVa and says her brother's spirit motivates her as well as the clinic.
"It's not that my brother died with ALS, it's how my brother lived with ALS that really is the source of inspiration for the clinic," said Vart.
The Richard Vart ALS Clinic at UVa is a one-stop shop for those living with the disease who receive care at the clinic. Like most clinics, money is needed to assist those who suffer from the illness, but money is not the only support gained at fundraisers like this.
"It's the awareness," said Ken Nicholls of the ALS Association. "People who may not have know about Lou Gehrigs Disease, ALS, can learn more about it, meet families and people who have been touched by it and even meet some people living with ALS."
As the campaign glasses were lifted, hopes of a cure were in the tear filled eyes of many of those who attended.
If you would like to support the fight against the Lou Gehrigs Disease, ALS, visit the local Web site at www.alsinfo.org.