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“Walkering” with Cathy Speck

Hi.  I’m Walking Bob, and as promised I’m updating you on a special walk against ALS, and in support of our own Cathy Speck.  Of course Cathy couldn’t drum up support for her walk in a typical way because, “Here in Davis our favorite way to raise ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) awareness is to raise the roof and take to the skies and SKYDIVE!”  Last year Cathy, the lady in orange in the photo above, was one of 27 skydivers helping to raise funds at the “Skydiving for ALS Specktacular”.  You can join the crowd jumping out of planes or just “watch your friends flying toward earth” and join the picnic at the Yolo County Airport on Sunday, August 28 at 10 a.m.  Contact organizer Jenna Jae Templeton at jtempleton42@gmail.com or click on the link above.

If you’re not brave enough to jump out of a plane, or to even watch the jumpers, you can stay down to earth and support Cathy and the local chapter of the ALS Association by signing up and donating to her team for the upcoming Walk to Defeat ALS in Sacramento on Saturday, October 1.   Join me and the Specktacular team walking, or “walkering” as Cathy calls it since she started using that well-adorned walker. I know the economy is bad, but that adds to the challenge for non-profit organizations supported by your donations.  Walk, get others to donate or simply help with what you can.

The local chapter helps those with ALS in many ways, including providing the hospital bed that Cathy must use now that she can no longer effectively breathe if she’s lying down flat.  Unfortunately, they don’t currently provide BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines, like the one shown here that Cathy uses to help herself breathe when she’s sleeping.

Neither her mother nor her two brothers, all who died of ALS, had access to this technology and Cathy believes it has increased her quality of life by allowing her to sleep and get rejuvenated each night.  That life-extending resource is now coming into question because her health insurance company has said it won’t continue to pay the $40 a day that this machine costs.  Follow Cathy’s “Dying As Living” blong (blog + song) to learn how this latest challenge is resolved, or how you can help.

Even if she can work something out with the health insurance people, Cathy is well aware that ALS is a fatal disease that typically takes people within two to five years of their diagnosis.  She was diagnosed in January 2009 and recognized the symptoms before that, so she knows her time is limited.  Another challenge is that even though Cathy is legally married to her musical and life partner, Linda Duval, that marriage is not recognized by the Federal Government.  That means that there will be no social security survivor benefits going to Linda, as they would to a spouse of the opposite gender, as Cathy movingly explains in this video.

ALS, DOMA, FICA, BiPAP, surviving, breathing.  Yes, Cathy has some challenges and yet she somehow remains positive.  Cathy’s hopes are buoyed by that special person in her life, Linda, by their SPCA rescue dog whom she describes as “Mazie the Amazing Monkey-Face Pug/Poodle Terrier Princess,” and by her family, her Co-Op colleagues and her many, many friends in the community.


Cathy is realistic enough to know that she can’t expect miracles, but you can help her now by joining the Skydiving Spectacular, walking to defeat ALS or by donating to the ALS Association.

You can help Cathy even more directly by donating to The Cathy Speck ALS Education Fund .   I’ll say that if anyone out there deserves a miracle, it’s Cathy Speck.

Thanks to Cathy and her friends for sharing these great photos.

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