Las Vegas, NV – For 31 years Sam Beekman was a machinist at Boeing Aerospace and an active member of IAM Local Lodge 63. But in 2013, Sam was diagnosed with ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. “That’s when my entire life changed in a heartbeat,” he said to more than 120 delegates to the 2015 IAM Retirees Conference.
ALS is a neuro-muscular disease which attacks motor neurons that transmit electrical impulses from the brain to voluntary muscles in the body. When the muscles fail to receive messages, they lose strength and die. In North America, someone dies from ALS every 90 minutes; life expectancy after diagnosis is three to five years. There is no known cure. “I’m not dying from ALS,” said Beekman, “I’m living with ALS.” The second-year ALS advocate shared his story with delegates in the hope that they would take it back to their locals and their communities so that people would become aware and get involved in raising money to find a cure. “I meet each day with the hope that some day, researchers will find a cure,” he said.