Scottsdale Charros help fund respite for families afflicted with ALS

A view of a day out having fun through the ALS Association Arizona Chapter. (Submitted photo)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a disease that cares nothing for where you come from, the person you are or the things you have done in the past.

It is a relentless killer that slowly eats away at its victim’s nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
The disease took the proud gallop from the Iron Horse and gave no mercy to a man friends, family and fellow Scottsdale Charros describe as “one with a golden heart.”

Nancy Posso displays her favorite photo of her son, Steve. (file photo)

While the disease over an eight-year period that started in 2007 would eventually take the physical prowess — one that garnered Scottsdale Charro Steve Posso accolades on both playing fields and in particular on the tennis court — it never took who he was or how he encountered the world around him.

Mr. Posso died at the age of 51 Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 but his legacy is living on through the Posso’s Posse Children’s Program at the ALS Association Arizona Chapter.

The Scottsdale Charros have awarded the ALS Association Arizona Chapter with a $10,000 grant meant to fuel the Posso Posse program, officials there say.

For 56 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.

“Our programs are designed to build connection with other kids who have someone in their family with ALS,” said ALS Association Arizona Chapter Youth Program Coordinator Jill Candland. “Kids are able to see they are not alone in the struggles their families are facing.”

Ms. Candland points out an ALS diagnosis can be devastating to the victim’s loved ones.

“ALS doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects the entire family,” she said.  “Many of our patients have children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews that are being emotionally impacted by their loved one’s diagnosis. This was something that our former board member and Scottsdale Charro, Jason Heetland, and Executive Director, Taryn Norley, focused on as inspiration for the program.

We have developed a comprehensive program that brings youth together who have one thing in common — they all love someone with ALS.”

Ms. Candland points out grant funding from the Scottsdale Charros is life-changing as it helps give families who are dealing with the unthinkable a day filled with camaraderie with others going through a similar experience.

“The grant funding from Scottsdale Charros allows families to receive the benefits of the youth program at no charge,” she said.  “With the average cost of treating ALS estimated at $200,000 a year, the families have this great opportunity available to them without the financial stress that often accompanies programs.”

Ms. Candland explains a mentality of devastation that surrounds a family impacted by ALS.

“We are happy to say that our program is a valuable tool that is helping kids cope with the realities of ALS,” she said. “Our efforts to address the issue of loneliness and isolation within youth is positively affecting families that participate in our program.”

“The grant funding from the Scottsdale Charros provides youth the opportunity to attend multiple Kids Day Out events within the year at no cost to them,” she said. “These Kids Days Out are recreation-based activities focused on giving youth a break from the realities of ALS and a chance to meet others who are facing the same reality they are.”

A community is nothing more than a collection of families living out their lives in relative proximity to each other — and a community needs to have support for one another, Ms. Candland explains.

“The ALS Association’s Arizona Chapter addresses a need within the community,” she said.

“ALS is a tough disease and with the support to the patient, as well as the programming we now provide for the family as a whole, this diagnosis can be met with more positivity and options for families to connect and find support though this tough time.”

Go to webaz.alsa.org.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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