The Princeton University Geosciences Society (PUGS) have a focus on geosciences, Earth sciences and climate change. They often organize undergrad field trips to museums and nature centers, help Princeton students network for careers, and organize speakers at Guyot Hall where they reside at Princeton University. Because of a unique life experience, they are turning their attention to fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
In 2015, Theresa, who was a staff member at Guyot Hall, was diagnosed with ALS. The students were friends with Theresa since she often assisted them with their trips and was an advocate for the group’s events. It had become evident that Theresa was beginning to feel the effects of the disease early on.
Most students, faculty, and staff at the department were not familiar with ALS. Many felt helpless in trying to understand what Theresa was going through. What was most shocking was how quickly the disease was changing Theresa’s life. PUGS felt deep empathy for Theresa and wanted to find out how to help. Because of their background in science they could surmise the rapidity of Theresa’s disease.
As a result of her symptoms, Theresa was forced to leave the job she loved at Geosciences. She is now at home with her three older children, one who still is in high school. The siblings are now juggling busy schedules in order to provide constant care.
As Theresa’s illness progressed, PUGS wanted to learn more about ALS. They couldn’t believe that there are no cures for the disease. They thought that surely with all of the advances in modern science, there would be more effective treatment? Instead of feeling defeated, they organized a drive to do whatever they could to help their friend. Luckily, there was some hope.
First, the department staff and students decided to participate in a local ALS plunge that supports local families. This opportunity gave them exposure to the ALS community in central New Jersey. They learned that a larger group in Philadelphia supports the local ALS community. They sincerely were moved by how many families in New Jersey were touched by ALS. Secondly, hearing their stories of dedication and kindness gave them more motivation to branch out on their own. The group found warmth and inspiration even though the waters from the plunge were extremely cold.
Instead of jumping into another plunge, PUGS thought a 5K Run/1M Walk on Princeton’s campus would be more effective. They decided that Saturday, April 16 was their date and began to organize. Using experienced planners from the department and others, their fundraiser began to take solidity. They were delighted to learn that the event will end just in time to enjoy Truckfest Princeton set up for Communiversity the following day.
Everything happened so rapidly! The organizers found sponsors, planned a route, secured raffle items, and raised awareness in local papers and on social media. Even though it is a monumental effort to organize a 5K run at the University, they are considering making it an annual event. The cause of supporting their friend Theresa has already shown its rewards by the appreciation shown by Theresa, her family and the rest of the Princeton community.
JOIN IN and pledge your support for PUGS today. Your support definitely will make a difference In Theresa’s life and the lives of others with ALS. Proceeds will go to support The ALS Association.