In August 1978, a close friend called Lawrence Barnett to tell him the friend’s wife had been diagnosed with ALS. “I asked him, ‘what’s that?’” Barnett recalled. “That was my first contact with the disease. I didn’t know what ALS was.” Barnett has devoted time, talent, energy and generous financial support to help find a cure since then.
Barnett wasn't alone in his scant knowledge of the disease he was introduced to that day - few Americans were familiar with it. The friend asked Barnett, an experienced fundraiser, to help increase public awareness of ALS and support for research.
He agreed. By 1981, Barnett had been elected chairman of the ALS Society of America (ALSOA) and devoted much of his time to ALS causes. His dedication to ALS issues was well-known when Barnett was elected the first chairman of The ALS Association (ALSA) born of the merger of ALSOA and the National ALS Foundation.