Originally created 09/30/05

Man, wife fight ALS with walk for cash



Tom Davis dreamed the other night of playing Augusta National Golf Club. Another night, he dreamed he was back in his plane, flying. These days, those dreams are as close as he can get to the things he used to enjoy.

Mr. Davis was diagnosed in November with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and has difficulty even walking now.

But he and his family are fighting back by raising money to fund services and research into the incurable disease through the Walk to D'Feet ALS on Saturday.

"It's really all you have when you have this disease," said his wife, Janet.

The Davis family is one of the top fundraisers for the event, having raised more than $1,400, with more coming in, said Brianne NaLampoon, the director of communications for The ALS Association of Georgia.

The event raises money for the group, which in turn provides funding for research and direct-care services such as nurses who make home visits to patients, she said. The money also helps support a monthly ALS clinic, and the association provides a support group at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, clinic Director Michael Rivner said.

"The Georgia ALS association actually provides some pretty unprecedented services," Dr. Rivner said. "They are very patient-focused and they actually provide extremely important services to these patients who need it really badly."

Mr. Davis, for instance, got a wheelchair through the association, even though he lives across the river in North Augusta. And he enjoys going to the support group, where he has met patients from as far away as Charleston, S.C., and Alabama.

"It's good to see other people and talk to their families," Mr. Davis said.

The fundraiser itself is therapeutic, said Kathleen M. McKie, an association board member who lost her brother Chip to the disease.

"There's so little that you can do, and this is one small thing you can do that makes you feel that you're striking out and that you're making a statement," said Dr. McKie, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist at MCG.

The Davises plan to be there, even if they can't stay long.

Lying in bed, laboring to breathe, Mr. Davis' eyes light up when he recalls playing golf with his grandchildren or getting lost while flying his plane and following Interstate 20 to get back home.

A retired draftsman, he said he had 10 good years of retirement before the disease struck about two years ago. He doesn't let it ruin his dreams, or his memories.

"I've had a good life," he said.

"We've had a lot of fun," his wife added.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO


WHAT: The second annual Walk to D'Feet ALS in Augusta


WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday


WHERE: At the fountain on 10th Street in front of Radisson Riverfront Hotel Augusta.


CONTACT: To learn more about the walk and The ALS Association of Georgia, call (888) 636-9940 or go to www.alsaga.org.



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