Adversity: Diagnosed with ALS in 2007
Advocacy: Founded “Corey’s Crusade” to give voice to ALS sufferers
“I never really thought about NOT sharing my story. It never even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t go out and try to do everything that I could. It just felt natural to share.”
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. ALS. Lou Gehrig’s disease. Corey Reich first learned that his name would forever be linked to those labels during the summer after his third year at Middlebury College in Vermont. He’d fallen down a flight of stairs and wound up in a neurologist’s office, undergoing a battery of tests. Later, a tearful doctor would deliver the news: Corey was among the roughly 30,000 Americans living with the still incurable disease. In the weeks that followed, Corey and his family learned the all too sobering facts about his ALS: That the average patient lives only two to five years from the time of diagnosis. That, at 21, Corey was 35 years younger than the average age of onset. That ALS weakens muscles by attacking motor neurons. And that, eventually, the disease claims its victims’ abilities to speak, eat, and even breathe.
Nearly four years have passed since Corey’s diagnosis, and he has lived them the way he always had–with passion, drive, a healthy sense of humor, and without an ounce of self-pity. Refusing to give up on his dreams, Corey finished his college education and returned home to help coach tennis at the high school where he’d been a standout player. Along the way, Corey and his family got involved with the ALS Therapy Development Institute and began supporting its efforts. In 2008, the Reiches formed Corey’s Crusade and, through a variety of fundraisers, they’ve now raised more than 1.5 million dollars for ALS research. Because his ALS is progressing slowly, Corey considers himself very lucky. So too is the ALS community, because in Corey it has found a powerful voice that refuses to be silenced.