Pastor Bill Hassel

Adversity: Diagnosed with ALS in 2008

Advocacy: Founded the 5K Stroll, Roll ’n’ Run for ALS Research

“No one knows or controls what life throws at you; with God’s help, you can handle it and do something positive in spite of it.”

The first indication there was something wrong was in 2006, when the Rev. Bill Hassel dropped the Cross during Good Friday services at First English Lutheran Church in Victoria, Texas. Two years of medical tests followed, before the man known by congregants as Pastor Bill was diagnosed with ALS. He left his role as full-time pastor at the church in Sept. 2008.

Though Pastor Bill no longer holds his former position at the church, he remains involved with the congregation. He is also very much involved with the ALS community (members of which he calls his PALS – People with ALS) – and is dedicated to raising funds for ALS TDI (ALS Therapy Development Institute), the leading nonprofit biotech company researching treatment for ALS. Pastor Bill founded the 5K Stroll, Roll ’n’ Run benefit for runners, walkers and people in wheelchairs, to raise money for ALS TDI. His efforts creating the inaugural event is included in “Breadth of Hope,” a documentary centered on three people faced with ALS and how faith and hope help them to confront the disease. In 2011, Pastor Bill also played a pivotal role in contacting TV stations in an effort to get them to air 1-minute ALS commercials during the World Series, to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. Pastor Bill’s treatment includes participating in a program at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, to study the effects of Lipitor on the immune systems of those with ALS. Even in his own treatment, Pastor Bill is looking out for future generations.

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