Provide A Voice – Fred & Sandy’s Story

What if one day you woke up and could not speak? How would you communicate?

For our family, this cruel situation became a reality when ALS took Fred’s voice. The action of sharing a thought, need, or simple greeting became a daunting task for him.

The ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter helped us through this challenging transition by providing encouragement and support. In addition, the Chapter provided speech devices, consultations with Speech-Language Pathologists, and guidance.

As a Speech- Language Pathologist, Kate Karlovits provides tools to those living with ALS so that they can have a voice. By giving a person the ability to speak, those like Fred are empowered to advocate for themselves and live their lives to the fullest.

People with ALS often experience frequent communication breakdowns. During this video, you will learn how Fred was put into a very frightening situation because he simply could not communicate his own health risks in the emergency room. This is an extreme example but demonstrates how important conversation can be.

For many, this time of year is all about connecting. This is especially true as Fred and I interact with others to enjoy the traditions of the holiday season. Connecting with our families, friends, and communities makes us who we are and fills our lives with meaning and belonging.

The ALS Association understands how important it is to connect with one another, which is why they make it a priority to provide a voice to those living with ALS. The following video shows how their services help connect ALS families so they can continue sharing those special moments in life.

You have heard various stories from me and my husband Fred about how his speech-generating device allowed him – us – to continue living our lives even with an ALS diagnosis. You learned about our new dog, Ellie, how Fred connected with his old Navy buddy, and his debut in the fountains for the CEO Soak with former coworkers from Philips.

We were happy to share our ALS “ride,” but I am sorry to share that our ride has ended. Fred has passed away from ALS. He was the love of my life, and I will miss him dearly. I’m glad you all got to see how he persevered in the face of his diagnosis. It was our wish that the Chapter continue to share his story and bring funding and awareness to this terrible disease.

The last video that we have to share shows how providing a voice to communicate, empower, and connect are all things that make a person whole. Having a voice made Fred feel like himself, even though ALS took so much from him.

We want to thank The ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter for all they did to help us through this diagnosis. We are grateful for all of the assistance we received. If you are able to give this holiday season, I would encourage you to make a donation today to help provide a voice to other families like ours. The last few months we had together went quickly, and I couldn’t imagine doing it without Fred’s voice.

This holiday season, we are asking you to help provide a voice for those living with ALS by donating to ensure that ALS families have access to speech devices, consultations with Speech-Language Pathologists, and more. Not able to donate at this time? Share your voice so those living with ALS can keep theirs.

*The ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter’s annual Impact Report covers finances, programs, and event highlights. Please read and share with those that want to learn more.

Special thanks to Fred and Sandy Abercrombie for sharing their ALS journey.

And thank you to Kate Karlovits, CCC, SLP for her outstanding work providing those living with ALS the necessary communication tools to live their lives to the fullest.

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