“The readiness is all.”
Ken Johnson, a former English teacher at Ledyard High School, has come to appreciate the little blessings in life, and he embraces the quote from Hamlet above.
Johnson has been living with brachial amyotrophic diplegia (BAD), a slow-developing variant of ALS since 2008. Johnson’s shoulders, arms, and hands are completely paralyzed and even completing daily routines is a great hardship.
“For the last eight months I have had a service dog, given to me by Canine Companions for Independence, who helps with many of the simple tasks I can no longer perform, such as opening and closing doors, picking up items I have dropped, and staying right by me on stairs to help me maintain balance on my sometimes wobbly legs,” Johnson said.
Pete Frates, the creator of the Ice Bucket Challenge and aquaintance of Johnson, is working to raise awareness of the various branches under amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
While the Ice Bucket Challenge has proved itself to be a viral, somewhat controversial sensation, it has meant a great deal to Johnson.
“ALS is a fatal disease with an average survival rate of 3 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis, so this ice-cold tsunami of funding will allow research advocates to more aggressively seek out potential participants and get them to the research centers within this small window of time,” Johnson said.
Johnson retired from teaching English at Ledyard High School in June of 2007 after having experienced more pronounced difficulties such as lasting muscle cramping and extreme fatigue. “The support of my students and colleagues made it possible for me to keep at it,” Johnson said.
While the hype over the Ice Bucket Challenge has died down a bit, and videos aren’t pouring in as much, relentless supporters of ALS will not stop shining light on this debilitating disease.
As for Johnson, he plans on spending time with his wife, Rosemary, the woman he calls his best friend.
“I live in the present moment.”
Leah Sheltry, Features Editor
Junior Leah Sheltry is Features Editor for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She is Vice President of YUGA club and is on the swim team.