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TODAY news for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Loma Linda University Medical Center news

Hearts for ALS throws holiday party for ALS patients and family members

Toyia Greene (right) and Anu Sood play a selection of Christmas songs.
Toyia Greene (right) and Anu Sood play a selection of Christmas songs for the audience before lunch at the ALS holiday party.
On Sunday afternoon, December 4, the “Hearts for ALS” patient committee and the Loma Linda University department of neurology held the annual Hearts for ALS holiday party in the campus cafeteria. More than 50 people, comprising ALS patients and their families, came out for some holiday cheer, bright music, good food, and to thank a local group that has provided a lot of help in funding research of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

Since 2002, the Palm Desert Corvette Club has donated proceeds from its Annual Fun Autocross & Car Show Benefit for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) to the Loma Linda University Medical Center ALS multiple disciplinary clinic. The event has grown into a two-day affair offering people a chance to participate in competitions for awards and viewing classic
Laura Nist (left), MD, presents a plaque of appreciation to Paul Aragon.
Laura Nist (left), MD, presents a plaque of appreciation to Paul Aragon and the Palm Desert Corvette Club for the support they have provided to the Loma Linda University Medical Center ALS multiple disciplinary clinic.
Corvettes in action. Last year the group donated $6,000 to the ALS clinic.

The ALS multiple disciplinary clinic is an all-day clinic that includes an exam by a physician and physical, occupational, speech, dietitian, and neuropsychological therapy. When medical groups don’t allow their patients to come here due to non-contract issues, donations like this allow ALS patients to come for two visits a year free of charge.

Laura Nist, MD, director of the ALS multiple disciplinary clinic, led out in thanking the group at the holiday party by presenting a plaque of appreciation to Paul Aragon, past president of the Corvette club, and members of the club.

“This has been a labor of love for us,” said Mr. Aragon upon receiving the plaque. “I lost my wife to ALS and know the issue very well. We enjoy doing what we can to help.”

ALS is a disorder of the motor neurons and nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control the action of voluntary muscles. In ALS, for unknown reasons, these nerve cells gradually die. As they die, the nerve fibers that travel from them to the muscles die, too, and the muscles that normally receive the signals from these nerve fibers can no longer function.

ALS most often strikes adults in late middle age (55-65). But there are people with ALS ranging from their teens to their 80s. It usually starts in a leg or arm, with weakness, stiffness, or cramping. Sometimes, the trouble starts in the mouth or throat, usually as difficulty forming words with the tongue and lips, or with voice volume or quality.

While at the party, attendees enjoyed live musical presentations from Toyia Greene and Anu Sood on the flute. The duo played a selection of Christmas songs before the group broke for lunch and a chance for the kids to visit with Santa Claus and have some fun with Christmas craftmaking.

TODAY news for Thursday, December 15, 2005