Two year study shows Canadians will take action to fight the terminal disease ALS

MARKHAM, ON, June 2, 2015 /CNW/ - In 2014, over 260,000 Canadians dumped a bucket of ice over their heads and made a donation through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. They demonstrated a commitment to fight the terminal disease ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The Challenge not only spurred Canadians to rally for the cause, but transformed awareness for the disease that previously was relatively unknown to Canadians.

ALS Society of Canada has completed a two year awareness study amongst Canadians across the country. In comparison from June 2014 to June 2015, awareness has jumped from 52% to 62% with Canadians having a greater understanding that ALS is a motor neuron disease. Moreover, eight in ten Canadians have awareness for both ALS and Lou Gehrig's. This increased awareness helps to reduce the sense of isolation people living with ALS experience, it also brings more support to the community.

From previous learnings, the research showed that Canadians would engage if they knew more about the cause. This finding remains today, with seven in ten Canadians admitting to being motivated to support the cause and 66% wanting to support ALS Societies across Canada.

ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a terminal disease with no treatment. People affected with ALS usually die within 2-5 years. The cells that connect the brain to the muscles die, causing progressive paralysis throughout the body, which affects a person's ability to eat, swallow, speak and eventually to be able to breathe. In 90% of the people diagnosed with ALS it is sporadic and there is no known cause or hereditary link. It can affect people of any age, sex or ethnicity.

June marks ALS Awareness Month, with a statement delivered in the House of Commons by David Tilson, MP, who sponsored a private member's bill commemorating the month dedicated to both the cause and ALS community.

"I personally know the devastation ALS inflicts on Canadian families. In 2005, my father succumbed to ALS. Each year at this time, friends, family, and supporters of those suffering from ALS dedicate their time and energy to increase knowledge of this devastating disease and to raise funds to make ALS a treatable, not terminal disease," said David Tilson, Member of Parliament for Dufferin-Caledon.

"Canadians really embraced the cause and showed how much they care last summer through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This research shows that the majority of Canadians want to help us find a treatment for this disease," said Tammy Moore, CEO ALS Canada.  "We need their continued support to fund critical research to accelerate finding a treatment and also allowing the ALS Societies across Canada the resources to provide the support and assistance with the medical equipment requirements for the 2,500-3,000 Canadians living with ALS as they experience the progressive transitions this disease inflicts. ALS is a costly disease with direct and indirect costs of between $150,000 - $250,000 over the course of the illness."

Canadians can get involved in ALS Awareness Month by donating to an ALS Society across Canada or continuing to raise awareness using #ALSAwarenessMonth. They can also join a WALK for ALS, which is in 90 communities across Canada. Registration is open at www.walkforals.ca

About ALS

ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease where the cells in the body that control movement die. The "living wires" which connect a person's brain to their muscles degenerate, leading to a loss of mobility and eventual paralysis, changes or complete loss of speech and eventually the ability to breathe. ALS is a terminal disease that has no cure, and no effective treatment. Approx. 2,500-3,000 Canadians are living with ALS.  It is estimated 1,000 Canadians will die annually of ALS and 1,000 will be newly diagnosed each year. The average lifespan is two to five years.

About ALS Canada

The ALS Society of Canada was founded in 1977 and is the only national registered charity dedicated to ALS. ALS Canada is responsible for the ALS Canada Research Program – funding peer reviewed research grants and fostering collaboration amongst Canadian researchers, helping to nurture new ideas and build capacity. ALS Canada has a role in Ontario, similar to that of the Provincial ALS Societies, providing services and support for people living with ALS within our provinces. ALS Canada advocates federally in partnership with the Provincial Societies on behalf of people and their families for better government support and access to federal research funding programs. Follow ALS Canada @ALSCanada and for more information visit als.ca

SOURCE ALS Canada

For further information: Rebecca Grima, Director Marketing and Communications, ALS Canada, 905.248.2052 x234 rg@als.ca

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