Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

Living with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

 

William Kaloger, Today

It was Thursday, almost time to call it a day, when I took a call from a young lady very excited about the Ice Bucket Challenge she and her friends from the Lake Stevens Vikings Cheer Team were going to do. She asked me if I had heard about the ice bucket challenge and I told her yes, it was all over the airwaves, newspaper and social media. Then she, Sydney LaPonsey, told me they, (she and her friends), were doing it for her Grandfather, who she lovingly calls Papa.

The following day I had the pleasure of meeting Sydney's Grandmother, Candy Kaloger,  who has been married to her Papa for 37 years. Candy then tells me that Bill, her husband, says they've been married for 40 years - because they lived together for three years before getting married!

Bill Kaloger is just 61 years old. He was diagnosed with ALS when he was 47. Candy Kaloger has been his care giver for the past 14 years. "Caring for someone who has a debilitating disease is more than tough, it takes all you have", she told me. Although she has help from her daughter each day for four hours, the majority of Bill's ongoing care is done by Candy. "I love my Bill and it breaks my heart to watch my husband, my best friend go though this" she said. "It is very expensive to hire outside care. When you do hire them you should hire them for at least four hours to keep the cost down. That cost is still approximately $30 per hour." Kaloger said. "It was right before our 25th wedding anniversary and we had planned to take a cruise to celebrate, when Bill was diagnosed with ALS. Although we went on the cruise the life we had once lived together was about to change." Kaloger said. It took another two years before Bill started to lose his strength and his voice.

ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. In 1939 when Baseball great, Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, he brought worldwide attention to this disease. It later became known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS was founded by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, in 1869. Some publications refer to ALS as Charcot Disease, after its' founder. This progressive neurodegenerative disease affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

Candy Kaloger refers to ALS as an orphan disease, because so few people are diagnosed annually and so little is still known. Kaloger said she was grateful to see so many people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. The amount of money and awareness it has raised is phenomenal! She was so thrilled that her Granddaughter Sydney was taking an active part in the challenge. On Monday, at press-time, the ALS Association reported $79.7 million has been raised since July 29 as the Ice Bucket Challenge continues to bring in more money and awareness. Last year at this time ALS had raised $2.5 million in comparison.

Before being diagnosed with ALS, Bill Kaloger grew up in Michigan. He met Candy at a Crisis Center where they both worked. Candy said Bill had a way with helping others, he was a leader. Many of the calls for help were from people who had overdosed or were suicidal. Candy said Bill always knew how to handle the situation and was so good at helping others to see that tomorrow would be a better day.

Upon graduating from the University of Michigan, Boeing hired him sight unseen, said Candy. He would spend the next 25 years working with Boeing as an Engineer.  With the offer from Boeing Bill and Candy moved to Everett. They seemed to have a wonderful life together. They bought a 100 year old home in Everett in 1980, which had three stairwells and Bill was forever doing projects on. The Kaloger's  fostered over 20 children, adopting five of them. Bill was a Sunday School Director for years and one year flew to New Guinea with five others to rebuild a Missionary's termite infested home.

Despite the anti-Malaria medication everyone took, Bill began to experience frequent Malaria attacks once home. He did see his doctor, but besides working through them, not much was done.

While at Boeing Bill Kaloger proved to be a leader in his work. He created computers that went inside many Jets but his stellar creation was the Stall Warning / Wind-sheer Device for planes, Candy said. He was nominated Engineer of the year.

In 1996, just sixteen years ago, Bill Kaloger was honored to be the Olympic Torchbearer in Bremerton. He had been nominated by his wife and his Mother as a Community Hero for his work with Foster Children. He was selected and he handed the Olympic Torch off to a silver medal winner. It was a one of many highlights in his life.

Bill Kaloger and his son Chris LaPonsey coached Football for the Everett Boy & Girls Club. After making a remarkable difference in one young boys life, the boys Mother sent a letter to the Pittsburg Steelers telling them of the difference these coaches had made. She was able to present an Autograph football by all the Pittsburg Steelers to Bill and his son Chris at the end of the season Team Party.

Today Bill Kaloger is on oxygen. ALS may have taken a toll on his body, but not his mind, Candy said. This is another difficult development in the disease. Bill has a Samsung phone and Tablet that he uses to text and communicate with the outside world. Candy said she wished more of their friends would stop by and visit. That's one change that has been hard for both of them.

I asked Candy how she sees her future. " Honestly, I don't know. I've long supported World Vision. I have a girl in Africa I'm helping now. Maybe I will take a trip and go see her. I'd really like that." She said. Candy Kaloger has great faith in God, which is why she concluded with, "God will give me something to do."

Bill just finished working with Jeff Dettman from the University of WA at Bothell. Dettman is part of a book that is published called, This I Believe. For those interested in learning more about the project go to http://thisIbelieve.org  Dettman asked Bill to provide some of his own thoughts or words of encouragement for the book, which he has. One I found memorable was Dittman asked Bill, " What's next?" Bill replied, "Tomorrow".

LaPonsey, told me they, (she and her friends), were doing it for her Grandfather, who she lovingly calls Papa.

The following day I had the pleasure of meeting Sydney's Grandmother, Candy Kaloger,  who has been married to her Papa for 37 years. Candy then tells me that Bill, her husband, says they've been married for 40 years - because they lived together for three years before getting married!

Bill Kaloger is just 61 years old. He was diagnosed with ALS when he was 47. Candy Kaloger has been his care giver for the past 14 years. "Caring for someone who has a debilitating disease is more than tough, it takes all you have", she told me. Although she has help from her daughter each day for four hours, the majority of Bill's ongoing care is done by Candy. "I love my Bill and it breaks my heart to watch my husband, my best friend go though this" she said. "It is very expensive to hire outside care. When you do hire them you should hire them for at least four hours to keep the cost down. That cost is still approximately $30 per hour." Kaloger said.

"It was right before our 25th wedding anniversary and we had planned to take a cruise to celebrate, when Bill was diagnosed with ALS. Although we went on the cruise the life we had once lived together was about to change." Kaloger said. It took another two years before Bill started to lose his strength and his voice.

ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. In 1939 when Baseball great, Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, he brought worldwide attention to this disease. It later became known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS was founded by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, in 1869. Some publications refer to ALS as Charcot Disease, after its' founder. This progressive neurodegenerative disease affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

Candy Kaloger refers to ALS as an orphan disease, because so few people are diagnosed annually and so little is still known. Kaloger said she was grateful to see so many people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. The amount of money and awareness it has raised is phenomenal! She was so thrilled that her Granddaughter Sydney was taking an active part in the challenge. On Monday, at press-time, the ALS Association reported $79.7 million has been raised since July 29 as the Ice Bucket Challenge continues to bring in more money and awareness. Last year at this time ALS had raised $2.5 million in comparison.

Before being diagnosed with ALS, Bill Kaloger grew up in Michigan. He met Candy at a Crisis Center where they both worked. Candy said Bill had a way with helping others, he was a leader. Many of the calls for help were from people who had overdosed or were suicidal. Candy said Bill always knew how to handle the situation and was so good at helping others to see that tomorrow would be a better day.

Upon graduating from the University of Michigan, Boeing hired him sight unseen, said Candy. He would spend the next 25 years working with Boeing as an Engineer.  With the offer from Boeing Bill and Candy moved to Everett. They seemed to have a wonderful life together. They bought a 100 year old home in Everett in 1980, which had three stairwells and Bill was forever doing projects on. The Kaloger's  fostered over 20 children, adopting five of them. Bill was a Sunday School Director for years and one year flew to New Guinea with five others to rebuild a Missionary's termite infested home. Despite the anti-Malaria medication everyone took, Bill began to experience frequent Malaria attacks once home. He did see his doctor, but besides working through them, not much was done.

While at Boeing Bill Kaloger proved to be a leader in his work. He created computers that went inside many Jets but his stellar creation was the Stall Warning / Wind-sheer Device for planes, Candy said. He was nominated Engineer of the year.

In 1996, just sixteen years ago, Bill Kaloger was honored to be the Olympic Torchbearer in Bremerton. He had been nominated by his wife and his Mother as a Community Hero for his work with Foster Children. He was selected and he handed the Olympic Torch off to a silver medal winner. It was a one of many highlights in his life.

Bill Kaloger and his son Chris LaPonsey coached Football for the Everett Boy & Girls Club. After making a remarkable difference in one young boys life, the boys Mother sent a letter to the Pittsburg Steelers telling them of the difference these coaches had made. She was able to present an Autograph football by all the Pittsburg Steelers to Bill and his son Chris at the end of the season Team Party.

Today Bill Kaloger is on oxygen. ALS may have taken a toll on his body, but not his mind, Candy said. This is another difficult development in the disease. Bill has a Samsung phone and Tablet that he uses to text and communicate with the outside world. Candy said she wished more of their friends would stop by and visit. That's one change that has been hard for both of them.

I asked Candy how she sees her future. " Honestly, I don't know. I've long supported World Vision. I have a girl in Africa I'm helping now. Maybe I will take a trip and go see her. I'd really like that." She said. Candy Kaloger has great faith in God, which is why she concluded with, "God will give me something to do."

Bill just finished working with Jeff Dettman from the University of WA at Bothell. Dettman is part of a book that is published called, This I Believe. For those interested in learning more about the project go to http://thisIbelieve.org  Dettman asked Bill to provide some of his own thoughts or words of encouragement for the book, which he has. One I found memorable was Dittman asked Bill, " What's next?" Bill replied, "Tomorrow".

 

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