Thirty four years ago, The ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter was established to meet the needs of people living with ALS and their families. Today, our commitment to the ALS community is as strong as ever, through the pursuit of our mission: to lead the fight to cure and treat ALS through global cutting-edge research, and to empower people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support. Simply put, our goal is to provide help for today and hope for tomorrow.
On December 25, 1975, Felice Wiener lost her mother to ALS. Her frustration at the lack of resources for people with ALS inspired her to create an organization that would provide these critically needed services. Through her vision and perseverance, in 1977, our Chapter was born.
As a truly grassroots organization, it was a small band of volunteers that kept the vision alive. Meetings were held in the homes of volunteers and records were kept in a shoe box. By 1981, support groups and board meeting were being held regularly. By 1988, the organization had experienced so much growth, it became necessary to hire a paid staff member.
Today, the ALS Greater Philadelphia Chapter employs a dedicated staff of over 30. As the staff grew, so did the outreach and support. As ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, baseball seemed a natural choice for support of the organization. In 1984, thanks to the recommendation of Nancy and Bill Giles, the Chapter became the principal charity of the Phillies. This partnership also sparked some incredible relationships, such as that of Curt and Shonda Schilling, who have adopted ALS as their cause. The relationship between the Phillies organization and the Chapter has had a tremendous impact on our ability to advance our mission
As support grows, so does our ability to touch the community we serve. In 1982, we recorded our first budget in the amount of $4,705. Today, through the support and generosity of our donors, our annual operating budget is more than $5 million.
Help for Today…
As the passion and commitment of our donors continues to grow, so does our ability to offer the best quality care to people living with ALS in our region. Many of the volunteers whose vision created this organization 30 years ago are still very active today. Their support is a testament to the dedication and irrepressible spirit of the Chapter’s founders. That spirit has ensured a clear focus on the mission or our organization.
Through their vision, our services have grown exponentially, allowing us to provide assistance for patients and their families at every stage of the disease. We offer assistive technology, a medical equipment loan program, transportation for patients, in-home care, respite care, support groups,, and multidisciplinary ALS clinics. Our services are designed to meet the changing needs of our families as they face this terrible disease.
…Hope for Tomorrow
All of our efforts are focused toward a single vision for the future: a world free from ALS. Our Chapter dedicates an average of $500,000 each year toward research into the cause, cure and treatment of the disease. Our two ALSA-Certified Centers of Excellence, at Pennsylvania Hospital and Hershey Medical Center, regularly participate in clinical trials. We are also establishing new ALS clinics in partnership with Lehigh Valley Hospital and Geisinger Medical Center to better serve patients throughout our service area.
We are active advocates for better services and increased funding for ALS patients and research efforts. Each year, our Chapter sends over 50 patients, families and staff members to Washington, DC to bring the ALS message to our legislators in Washington. In 2006, we held our first state Advocacy Day in Harrisburg, to solicit support from the state of Pennsylvania.
Facing the challenges and devastation of ALS are overwhelming for patients and their families. Through the support of our donors, we are able to have a significant impact on the lives of people facing this disease by providing patients the opportunity to live with dignity and quality of life. Through the passion and generosity of our donors, the ALS Greater Philadelphia Chapter is touching lives by providing Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow.