The ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter has announced a year-end, matching donation challenge — part of a $25,000 donation from Pacific Beach resident Rick Greenberg, a retired sports medicine physician.
Because of Greenberg’s donation, every dollar donated to the local ALS Association chapter until Dec. 31 will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000, according to ALS Association Executive Director Steve Becvar.
“2020 has been a challenging year, but ALS doesn’t stop and neither have we in helping people live longer and better with this horrible disease,” Becvar said. “Because of the generous matching donation from Rick Greenberg, our chapter will finish the year strong. He’s an amazing and inspirational example of a courageous and supportive family member.”
Greenberg said his donation is in honor of his identical twin brother David, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2014 and died Dec. 7, 2016. He was 69. David had a 30-year career as a general-practice family physician.
“I’m willing to do whatever I can in David’s name to continue the great work of the ALS Association and to eliminate this devastating disease,” Greenberg, 73, said. “ALS doesn’t just affect the patients who have the disease, but it also equally impacts all the family members.”
ALS — or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease after the New York Yankees slugger who died from the disease in 1941. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in people living with ALS weakens muscles and impacts physical function.
Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which can lead to total paralysis. There is no cure, cause or life-prolonging treatments for ALS and life expectancy for a person with ALS is within two to five years of diagnosis of initial symptoms.
“It was painful and excruciating to watch my identical twin progressively deteriorate in front of my eyes from a healthy, active athletic individual to someone who was unable to participate in sports, unable to walk and needed a wheelchair or motorized scooter,” Greenberg said.
David, who lived in Pacific Beach, also was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after his ALS diagnosis.
“I felt it was unfair that David would be saddled with two terminal illnesses and I, as his twin brother, had nothing except good health,” Greenberg said. “But David disagreed with me and said he would rather have both diseases knowing that one of us would live longer and extend our family legacy.”
Greenberg said his brother sought the advice of several physician friends in confirming the ALS diagnosis in June 2014, about two years before he died.
“I’ve never forget the day David called me on the phone and said his symptoms were not orthopedic-related to a previous hip replacement, but, instead, it was ALS,” Greenberg said. “As time went on and David’s condition continued to decline, I always felt I wasn’t doing enough to contribute to his health. That’s the major reason I chose to be a major partner with this matching donation challenge.”
The Greater San Diego ALS Association Chapter, chartered in February 2013, is one of 39 chapters nationwide. The San Diego chapter works closely with the ALS San Diego Clinic at UC San Diego. For information on how to donate, visit www.alsasd.org.
— City News Service