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Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Man's attitude is inspiration for everyone

By By the Advocate Editorial Board
March 6, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Updated March 5, 2014 at 9:06 p.m.


Victoria is filled with amazing, loving people. In every corner of our community, people with big hearts, strong character and generous attitudes can be found.

Unfortunately, some of these people and their stories become known through facing what seem like insurmountable adversity in their lives. One of these people is the Rev. Bill Hassel, a retired Lutheran minister who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, seven years ago. According to the ALS Association, only about 20 percent of those diagnosed with the disease will live five years or more past their diagnosis. Only about 10 percent reach 10 years or more.

Because the disease affected his ability to speak, Hassel was forced to retire from preaching, but he has changed his focus to raising money for research into the disease. That decision and his decision to keep a positive attitude instead of falling into depression and giving up is what makes Hassel's story so incredible, and we admire his determination to stay positive despite his circumstances.

ALS is a terrible, incurable disease that affects thousands of Americans every year. In the past, we have been amazed at how the Victoria community has come together to support those struggling with ALS. When the Advocate presented Drew Stewart's documentary "Breadth of Hope," which focused on the stories of Hassel, Craig Fox and Carolyn Shimek, who were all diagnosed with ALS, the community members who attended gave the film a standing ovation, and after Fox died from the disease in August 2011, the community rallied around his two children to ensure they would want for nothing. Now, the community has a chance to rally around those dealing with ALS again.

Sunday will be the fifth annual Stroll, Roll 'n' Run event, which raises money for ALS TDI, the nation's leading nonprofit for biotechnology research for a cure for ALS. Last year's event brought in more than $30,000.

We encourage members of the Crossroads community to take part in the Stroll, Roll 'n' Run event Sunday in Riverside Park. The event will begin at 10 a.m. at the special events area of the park, and registration costs $25 per adult and $10 for each child under 12 years old. The event will feature a 5K race in which people can walk, run, use a wheelchair or even stand on the sidelines and cheer on those who participate. There will also be an auction, $5 lunches and a drawing for prizes. The event also takes sponsors ranging from a $100 contribution up to $2,000 or more.

Proceeds from the event will go to ALS TDI, the nation's leading nonprofit for biotechnology research for a cure for ALS. Last year's event brought in more than $30,000. Hassel hopes to match or surpass that amount at this year's event. We do not doubt that is possible, and the Crossroads community can make it happen.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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