10 years ago, my good friend Tony (Hom) was diagnosed with ALS. He was everything you could have asked for in a buddy, neighbor, father and husband – he was kind, giving, funny, a fellow technology nerd and a horrible poker player.
Undoubtedly, there is fear and helplessness that accompanies an ALS diagnosis but sitting on the sidelines while your friend slowly deteriorates and succumbs to an uncurable disease left me feeling useless and incapable of providing any sort of real friendship or support.
I decided to leverage my passion for ultra-running to help raise money for the ALS Association Arizona Chapter. Nothing says, “I’m serious about raising money to defeat ALS!” than a 100-mile charity run. In May 2013, the Hom 100 was born. It would take me nearly 25 hours to complete the 100 miles in triple-digit heat.
Unfortunately, Tony would pass away in September that year never knowing we raised over $23,000 in his name.
Running 100 miles parallels the fight against ALS in more ways than you might imagine. They are both physically and mentally exhausting yet require the fortitude to persevere and continue fighting. Tony’s strength and resilience continues to inspire me even today during other long endurance events. It reminds me that my pain is temporary and never to take the simple things (like running) for granted.
I was invited to sit on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Chapter in 2014 and found myself surrounded by people equally as passionate to end this disease as I was. The opportunity to keep Tony’s memory alive and help other ALS families across Arizona is a mission I am deeply passionate about. I continue to be honored by the opportunity to work with patients, families, partners, doctors and the Arizona Chapter staff who have dedicated themselves to finding a cure.
10 years and thousands of miles later, I never would have imagined that lacing up my running shoes for Tony would continue to bring hope to patients and families fighting to defeat ALS. We’ll run until there’s a cure!