Readers of the Lincoln Journal Star gained photographic insights of their city and beyond for 13 years through the vision of photojournalist William Lauer. He was respected among his peers for his skill, work ethic and commitment to the highest standards of the profession.
Doctors diagnosed William in October 2009 with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), an incurable, fatal neurodegenerative disease most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He died at the age of 51 on December 21, 2012—three years, one month and 25 days after the diagnosis.
Before his death, he was able to achieve his top three goals after receiving his diagnosis: 1) He was able to die at his home; 2) He educated all those around him about ALS and 3) He raised money to fight ALS through the Lauer Foundation.
William started attending the ALS support group sponsored by the ALS Association in Lincoln just after receiving his diagnosis. In addition to the camaraderie of the group it also assisted him in making decisions about his future care, necessary equipment, and end-of-life alternatives.
During the Ice Bucket Challenge in Summer 2014, Milan and his wife Gloria didn’t think much of it. “We thought it was funny and silly, but we didn’t give it a lot of attention,” said Gloria. That changed in January 2015 when Milan was diagnosed with ALS.
It started with tripping and balance problems, and after his diagnosis, suddenly the fad took on new meaning for the Gloria. “It was really wonderful. The funds that were generated help in so many ways.” One of the ways the Ice Bucket Challenge funds have helped is in ALS research. The Johnsons know the cure for ALS is probably years down the road, too late for Milan, but Gloria has hope. “You never know what is right around the corner,” she said.
The Johnsons advocate on behalf of ALS. “We took a picture of ourselves on TV and included it in our Christmas cards. We wanted to let everyone know about ALS. So many people don’t relate to that.”
Milan and Gloria take it one day at a time, with help from The ALS Association, Mid America Chapter. They attend support group, are seen in The ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence in Omaha and have participated in the Lincoln Walk to Defeat ALS®. They plan to work through this together and continue to hope for a cure.
Stan & Diane’s Story
Stan and Diane’s life drastically changed when Stan was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in December of 2011 at the age of 62. They first suspected something was wrong when he experienced unexplained weight loss and twitching of the muscles in one of his arms that lasted all day. Diane said, “With ALS, it’s progressive and there is no drug or treatment available to stop it. So, the best we can do is focus on symptom relief.”
After Stan’s diagnosis, the ALS Association became a permanent and helpful fixture in their life. Every three months, they attended a multi-disciplinary ALS clinic. Diane said that the ALS support group was perhaps the biggest help. She said it was nice to be with people who were going through the same thing. “It made a tough thing easier. We learned things about the care of a person living with ALS even before Stan needed them,” Diane explained.
Stan passed away in early 2014, three years after his diagnosis. When you give to the United Way/Community Health Charities of Nebraska campaign and the ALS Association Keith Worthington Chapter, you are helping to make sure that those facing chronic diseases, like Stan and Diane, have the critical support and programs that they need.