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A La Grange man is partnering with a well-known Oldham County restaurant for a fundraiser to help combat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Mike Hamilton was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, almost two years ago. And he’s partnering with Gustavo’s in Crestwood for a fundraiser to improve his quality of life while sick.
The fundraiser will take place July 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the restaurant, where 10 percent of food purchases from those attending the event will be given to Hamilton. Additionally, a silent auction, karaoke, raffles and a musical performance by Chase Skinner will occur, Hamilton said.
The highlight of the raffle will be a “Year of the Cardinal” Maker’s Mark bottle valued at $2,000, he said. The specially made bottle is not available in retail stores, but only by a $2,000 donation to the University of Louisville athletic department, with an exception being made for Hamilton’s raffle. Raffle tickets are $10 each, he said.
There will also be a basketball signed by former University of Louisville coach Denny Crum and current coach Rick Pitino, Hamilton said. There’s also gift certificates for auto work, resturants and more around the Oldham County area.
“We tried to stay in Oldham County for our businesses,” he said. “We still need donations, if any businesses are interested.”
Hamilton was diagnosed in August 2013. Put simply, the muscles in his body will weaken until he can no longer move on his own, including swallowing and breathing.
For Hamilton, it started in his legs. For others, it can start in the arms or the face. Most ALS patients sacrifice quality of life by using respirators and feeding tubes near the end to spend a little more time with family. The typical ALS patient dies within five years of a diagnosis, according to information provided by Hamilton.
Hamilton has four children, Jennifer, Samantha, Stephanie and David and also two grandchildren, Christopher and Sophia.
According to the ALS Foundation, the financial cost to families of persons with ALS is exceedingly high. It is estimated that in the advanced stages, care can cost an average of $200,000 a year, most of which is not covered by insurance or Medicare. Patients’ and relatives’ entire savings are quickly depleted because of the extraordinary cost involved in the care of ALS patients.
The latest fundraiser for Hamilton will go to home renovations, especially the bathroom, since Hamilton is wheelchair bound, Stephanie Kinser, said.
Two previous fundraisers, as well a GoFundMe account and a fundraising account at PNC Bank were able to raise enough for a handicap accessible van, which Hamilton bought three weeks ago, he said.
He hopes his latest fundraiser will gather at least $5,000 for the needed home repairs, Hamilton said.
“It’s just a lot of stuff to pay for,” he said. “I’m looking at least $60,000 a year, out of pocket. If you can’t pay for that you’re really limited in what you can do.”
And while the latest fundraiser is just as crucial as the previous ones, Hamilton said he appreciates the support he’s received so far. And Kinser agrees, the outpouring of support has been tremendous.
“It’s outstanding the support we’ve received from strangers,” she said. “We’ll go up to an auto store where we have the flyer hanging and they’ll say ‘someone left $50 for you.’ It’s outstanding.”
And while Hamilton’s disease means his functions will eventually lessen until he dies, he said the support of others helps him focus on the now.
“I’m looking at it one step at a time,” he said.
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