Justin Greenwald, San Antonio, Texas
Justin Greenwald understands the value of time. The 31-year-old was diagnosed with the fatal, neurodegenerative muscular disease ALS in June 2011. Greenwald seizes each day to teach his community about Lou Gehrig’s Disease through working with the Texas Chapter of The ALS Association.
In recognition of his awareness efforts, the chapter is paying tribute to Greenwald during May, which is ALS Awareness Month, along with his father and caregiver, Charlie Greenwald, for the annual “ALS Across America” campaign.
“Like most people who get a diagnosis of ALS, Justin initially had difficulty managing all of the emotions involved in receiving such news,” said Stephen Morse, the chapter’s care services director in San Antonio. “However, as time has passed, our chapter staff has seen a change in Justin regarding his ability to accept the circumstances and strive to live every day with a positive outlook on life.”
This optimistic stance imbues Greenwald’s interactions with chapter employees and other individuals with ALS. He attends the chapter’s monthly patient support group in San Antonio, where his attitude inspires others living with the disease. “For someone who is in the prime of his life, Justin has dealt with the diagnosis of ALS better than a lot of people who are much older than he is,” Morse said. “We have seen him consistently exhibit strength and endurance throughout his journey with ALS.”
Greenwald also serves as a willing spokesperson for the ALS community. In 2011, he oversaw various fundraising activities in which he educated his fellow San Antonio residents about Lou Gehrig’s Disease and also raised more than $3,600 for the chapter. Greenwald coordinated local events with Joe’s Crab Shack and the Flying Saucer and also set up information tables at these restaurants.
Greenwald and his father plan on attending the National ALS Advocacy Day and Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., with chapter staff and volunteers. “Justin has continuously expressed interest in reaching out to Members of Congress and telling his story to them in order to communicate our sense of urgency to find a cure for ALS,” Morse said.