Supporting the ALS Community

Jodi O’Donnell-Ames, left, and Sara Cooper.

Did you know that every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease? Sadly, every 90 minutes someone also passes away from this disease. Did you also know that there are dozens of people living with ALS right here in Mercer County?

Titusville resident Jodi O’Donnell-Ames had never heard of ALS, until 1995 when her late husband, Kevin O’Donnell, was diagnosed at the age of 30. Today there is still no known cause or cure for ALS and it affects both men and women of all ages, ethnicities, races, and cultures. When Kevin passed away in 2001, Jodi wanted to use her personal experience in a positive way. This resulted in the founding of Hope Loves Company (HLC), the nation’s only non profit dedicated to supporting children and families whose lives are affected by ALS. The Pennington-based nonprofit provides programs and resources at no charge to families affected by ALS, including Camp HLC, Hug of Hope care packages, scholarships, and more.

With the help of many local businesses and organizations including Church & Dwight, NJM, Christine’s Hope for Kids, Investors Bank, Cooper Creative Group, Closet POSSIBLE, Shalik, Morris and Company, and more, Hope Loves Company has been able to expand its programs to reach more families and even offer the first educational HLC Kids Count Conference at the Robert Wood Johnson Conference Center in Hamilton this past October.

Jodi’s efforts to support the ALS community have been recognized on both a local and national level. Neighbor and Titusville resident, Sara Cooper, president of Cooper Creative Group, joined Jodi in 2015 to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Three years later, Sara herself has been diagnosed with ALS and today, Jodi is a part of the team that helps administer Radicava, an ALS drug, to Sara. Jodi’s book, “Someone I Love Has ALS,” arrived with Sara’s Radicava packet. The community has embraced Sara and her courageous battle with ALS. Both Sara and Jodi were honored at the Princeton Mercer Chamber Women of Achievement Award Ceremony, featured in many local magazines and newspapers, and helped to inspire the SPIKE 293 Robotics Team competition at Hopewell Valley Central High School. Students brainstormed different ways that technology can improve life with ALS. Together, and with your support, they’re fighting for ALS families.

This holiday season and always, Hope Loves Company needs your help supporting children and families affected by ALS! As long as ALS exists, children need Hope Loves Company, and Hope Loves Company needs you. To make a donation, visit www.hopelovescompany.org/donate; to get involved, visit www.hopelovescompany.org/volunteer; and to learn more, contact the HLC office at 609-730-1144.

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