Local man living with ALS fighting for a cure

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- After he was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, Harrison Anderson said his life changed drastically.

“I was walking, I was working, I was driving, I’m not doing any of those things now,” he said.

Anderson said during the first year following his diagnosis, there were no visible signs the disease had an effect on him. Now, he says he struggles to move his hands, and has difficulty breathing.

“I’m not afraid of dying," he said. "It changes your life of course, and what you think is important is not.”

ALS is an incurable disease affecting around 30,000 people around the country, but there are research efforts and studies to better understand it.

“When we completely understand a disease it’s a whole lot easier to treat it. And ALS, we just don’t completely understand it. It’s a little bit different in everybody that has the disease and that makes it hard to study and understand,” said Dr. Michael Cartwright, with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

On Wednesday, families impacted by ALS aimed to educate others about the disease, calling the movement "Wake Up World Day."

Anderson said he didn't know much about the disease before his diagnosis and said many people don't fully understand it.

He said that even though a treatment or cure might come too late for him, he participates in studies to help others who will be diagnosed in the future.

“I know they’re working, there’s researchers working of course, but 150 years and no real treatment is a long time,” he said.

Anderson donates blood to Patients Like Me and plans to donate his brain to research.