By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich
A local man is hoping to kick the devastating disease, ALS, also known as Lou Gerhig’s disease, to the curb with his 3rd annual Valley kickball tournament. Ryan Matthews of Beacon Falls knows firsthand how the heartbreaking disease can affect families, having lost his mom, Susan Matthews, to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2011. Matthews’ mom was diagnosed in 2009. The degenerative motor neuron disorder takes otherwise healthy, physically capable individuals, and slips them eventually into full body paralysis, Matthews said. ALS patients are only expected to live an additional two to five years after their diagnosis, said Matthews, who serves as executive director of The Susie Foundation, which he founded in his mother’s honor.
“It was a transformative moment for our family,” said Matthews, 27. “My mom needed ‘round the clock care beginning during the very early stages of the disease, which, at times, presented seemingly insurmountable challenges. But we were lucky to have an incredibly supportive, loving, and dedicated network of family, friends, and community care providers to help us along the way.
The Susie Foundation provides direct relief and support services to local families living with ALS, Matthews said. To help raise funds to support programming efforts, Matthews is holding his 3rd annual Susie Classic Kickball Tournament on Aug. 8 in Beacon Falls.
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