October 13, 2014

Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Her spirits buoyed by the love and support of family and friends, Rebecca Clifford smiled as about 40 walkers set out on a short trek around the John A. Logan College campus Saturday morning to raise awareness of the crippling disease known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

This marked the second ALS fundraiser walk hosted by the college as organized by former colleagues of Clifford, who worked at Logan for nearly 19 years before having to step away from her duties in 2012.

“I think it was a very good turnout today despite the nasty weather,” Clifford said. “And I realize that a lot of people have already donated to ALS through the Ice Bucket Challenge this past summer and I’m perfectly OK with that. In fact, I’m overjoyed the challenge went so well, raising so much money for research.”

The 50-year-old Clifford said she continues to have her “tough” days, but takes solace in the fact that her struggle has brought her family and friends closer together.

“I definitely have days where I don’t feel like doing much of anything, but I push on for those who love me because I understand that this disease doesn’t just affect me, but also everyone else around me. That’s why the time I spend with family and friends is so important to me. Our relationships have deepened.”

Good friend, Claudia Merrett, secretary to the president at Logan, said she is glad to help lead the fundraising efforts at the school.

“Many of us worked with Rebecca and know of her struggles the last few years,” Merrett said. “We want her to know that we are here for her. Hosting a walk like this is no big deal. Anything for the cause. Maybe next year we will change things up a little and have a chili dinner inside the school after the walk.”

Lori Dobbs, care services and outreach specialist for the ALS Association in Sikeston, Mo., said every event like the one at Logan is important in an effort to turn the tide against the disease.

“Every dollar raised supports patient services,” she said. “Funds helped purchase a shower chair for Rebecca, for example. We provide a variety of services, including assistance for the caregiver if needed. Our goal is to keep the patient in the home setting as long as possible and out of the hospital or nursing home.”

Dobbs said there are 18 recorded cases of ALS in the Southern Illinois region ranging from Jefferson to Massac counties.