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Gambrel Family's Story

In the fall of 2014, Bob Gambrel noticed he was having a hard time swinging a hammer and working a circular saw. He chalked it up to getting older and being out of shape, but joining a gym and working out regularly did not seem to improve his strength. He knows now it was the first sign of his ALS.

Later that year, a friend noticed that he had lost significant strength in his hands and arms and encouraged him to see a doctor. In 2015, he was referred to The ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence, where he received a diagnosis of ALS. His wife, Jane, recalls, “I was shocked. It’s one of those days you never, ever forget.”

Shortly after his diagnosis, Bob began attending The ALS Association clinic on a quarterly basis. It was at his first visit that he was introduced to The ALS Association and began accessing the services offered. One of the first issues the Gambrels needed help with was their house.

“We met with Shannon Todd at the ALS office because we were concerned about whether our house would be livable as Bob progressed,” said Jane. “We decided we would need to move to an accessible house, which was a terribly difficult decision. We had lived in our home 29 years, raised our family there; we just had so many memories.”

It took about a year before the family started attending support group meetings. At first Bob avoided them. “I don’t know why, I just didn’t want to go. Now I look forward to the meetings. There’s good information and it’s good to see the other folks.” They attend nearly every month.

In 2017, The ALS Association Mid-America Chapter asked Bob, Jane and their daughter Anne to attend The ALS Association’s Public Policy conference to represent Nebraska. As a part of the conference, they visited elected officials in Washington, D.C., and shared their story of living with ALS. Jane and Bob agree: “We found the meetings with our congressional delegation to be useful. We felt they listened to our story and were very receptive and caring.”

Bob’s ALS continues to progress slowly. “I have weakness in my neck, hands and arms, but I can still walk and talk, although my voice is weakening.” They attend clinic and support groups and have a team in the annual Walk to Defeat ALS and find the help they need through The ALS Association Mid-America Chapter. Jane believes that “God puts certain people on this earth who are special. We think Shannon is one of those people. She is an angel to us. She is knowledgeable, warm-hearted and caring. If we have any issues, she is always there to help.”