Proctor and her husband Palmer, of Brookhaven, started the ALS Night of Hope Gala in 2006, which is now in its seventh year, in honor of Ennis.
“I wanted to give hope to my father and so many others, and the only way we could think of is to raise money for research,” Proctor said. “That’s when I met with MDA [Muscular Dystrophy Association] and we came up with the Night of Hope Gala.”
After living with the disease for a little more than six years, Ennis passed away in January.
Each year, there are about 5,000 new cases of ALS diagnosed in the U.S, affecting people anywhere from 20 to 90 years old.
The disease attacks and kills nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord, which results in muscle weakness, and makes everyday tasks increasingly difficult to impossible, according to the association’s website.
“There’s no cure,” Proctor said. “There are a few things they can do to slow it down but not a lot. “
She said they expect 600 guests and the fundraising goal this year is $650,000, which would total more than $3 million toward ALS research over the seven-year span.
This year’s gala will be Oct. 19 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead and the co-chairs are Joseph Carragher, of Duluth, and Bill Leffler, of Sandy Springs.
“My wife was diagnosed with ALS in January of 2005. … She passed away in September of 2010,” Carragher said. “I have two children who are now 12 and 6. … “Taking my children to see their mother at the cemetery can be pretty emotional.”
He said his wife’s death pushed him to get involved with finding a cure.
“The thought that there are other people out there who are also battling this is what motivates me to go make a difference for their lives so they don’t have to take children, brothers and sisters to go visit their loved ones at the cemetery,” Carragher said. “If people like me don’t get involved to try to raise awareness and raise money to fund the research, nothing is going to happen.”
Gala fundraising coordinator Angela Brown said the gala will include silent and live auctions, a seated dinner and entertainment from the Craig Duncan Orchestra and country singer Lucas Hoge.
“We will share information about what we do with our ALS Center at Emory before the dinner,” Brown said.
The first FDA-approved human stem cell trial for ALS now being conducted at the association’s ALS center at Emory University in DeKalb County.
If you go:
o What: ALS Night of Hope Gala
o When: Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.
o Where: InterContinental Hotel, 3315 Peachtree Road, Buckhead
o Tickets: $300 per person
o Information: www.MDANightOfHope.org