ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
Craider says after her brother’s diagnosis, everything in their lives began to change. “It came out of nowhere and it truly hit our family hard. It is all-consuming of our day. It’s becoming something that I think about every day. I don’t think 15 minutes can pass where I don’t think about my brother and the struggle he is going to face very soon,” said Craider.
Someone with ALS is told on the day of their diagnosis that they have 1,000 days to live. Stuczynski made the courageous decision to fight. He and his business partner organized “The STU MAN Group” to participate in the Cleveland Walk to Defeat ALS. In September 2013, Stuczynski’s team was the largest team in the state of Ohio and the fourth largest team in the country.
“As a family, we have one option. We can pray. We pray as individuals, as a family, and as a team. We want to beat this thing. We are praying for a miracle,” said Craider.
In the summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media. Thousands of people began dousing themselves with buckets full of ice water to raise awareness and money for ALS research. By August 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Initiative had raised over $40 million nationwide.
“When I prayed for a cure, this is not what I imagined, but who am I to judge the method. In my mind, this (the Ice Bucket Challenge) is the miracle we have waited for. With this type of funding, I am convinced that something is going to happen soon to get these researchers in place to find a cure,” said Craider.
Craider believes this money is going to help find a cure, not only for ALS, but for many other motor neuron diseases, like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
“I wanted Padua to start of the school year by being part of that miracle,” said Craider. On August 22, 2014, she nominated three people, who she considers to be part of her family, to take the challenge. She nominated Principal David Stec ’86 and teachers Mr. Jake Lantz and Mr. Tony Shuman ’91 accept the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. They accepted the challenge and passed it on by nominating the boys basketball team, marching band, dance team, color guard, cheerleaders, girls volleyball team, and the football team to do the same.
“It’s really all about raising money for this cause, so in two weeks we want to raise $2,500,” said Stec. As of Friday, September 5, 2014, the Padua community exceeded our goal raising over $2,500. Those funds will be donated to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. “I promise you the money will be used correctly, connected to our values,” said Stec.