ALS patient's ability to help others gets notice

Keldy  Ortiz

Oct. 24, 2012 at 5:24 a.m.

Bill Hassel has dedicated his time to helping others, including those with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Assisting those people has played a pivotal role in his life, so much so that his work is getting recognition.

Hassel was chosen to receive the Mary Lou Krauseneck Courage & Love Award given by the ALS Therapy Development Institute, which recognizes those "who despite all obstacles, created a foundation of hope by maintaining a passion for life" according to the ALS TDI site.

"I did not expect it at all," said Hassel. "Today reaffirms my faith in God, gives me hope and makes me appreciate all who helped me along the way."

Since developing ALS five years ago, the former reverend has not let the disease get him down, as he has been providing awareness to those unfamiliar to ALS. That included starting a support group, while also helping create the "Stroll, Roll N Run" event to help raise awareness and funding toward finding a cure for ALS.

In the U.S., 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year, according to the ALS Association. Life expectancy for a person with ALS is two to five years.

Lou Kobbs, regional director at ALS TDI, said he and Hassel crossed paths four years ago, when Hassel first wanted to create a support group in Victoria.

The award, Kobbs said, is not surprising for someone such as Hassel.

"The whole idea behind these awards is to recognize those above and beyond not only for ALS, but any person stricken with a disease," he said. "What he's done by example is that he can't just sit by. Bill is one of a kind."

Hassel's wife, Renee, agrees. While the disease has effected his ability to speak, Renee said that he remains dedicated.

"He has always had a positive attitude," she said. "He said if he had this disease, he wanted to make a difference."

Hassel said he looks forward to accepting the award in Massachusetts and dealing with ALS.

"If what I do can help to end the disease for even one, it is worth it," he said. "I am thrilled beyond belief to go, and see the lab, attend the seminars and receive the award for the people who helped."



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