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The fourth annual Johnson-Templeton ALS Golf Tournament is a way to raise funds and awareness of ALS, commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The event is Friday, May 8, at Shirkey Golf Course in Richmond.
The tournament is named after two area residents, Mark Johnson and Jeff Templeton, both who contracted ALS in 2000.
Templeton, a Polo farmer and family man, was diagnosed with the disease in March 2000 and passed away at age 41 in April 2001.
Johnson remains active in fundraising for the ALS Keith Worthington Chapter.
His father, Leamond, coordinates the Rural Missouri ALS support group that encompasses Richmond, Cameron, Chillicothe, Polo, Lexington and Odessa.
“It [the life span] just shows you how indiscriminate ALS can be,” said Templeton’s brother, Kent.
In people with ALS, motor neurons in the central nervous system begin to die, compromising the brain’s ability to send signals to the muscles. According to the ALS Association, the survival rate is two to five years from the time of diagnosis.
“The diagnosis is, you will eventually die from it,” Kent Templeton said. “So, it’s hard, especially hard on them and their family.”
There is no cure for ALS; however, scientists have made some promising discoveries this year.
Researchers at the University of Missouri and Broad Institute uncovered a genetic link between ALS in humans and degenerative myelopathy (DM) in dogs. The genetic mutation responsible for DM in dogs is the same mutation that causes ALS.
“Dogs with DM are likely to provide scientists with a more reliable animal model for ALS,” said Joan Coates, a veterinary neurologist in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, after the findings in January.
Also, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital identified a new gene that plays a role in the inherited form of ALS. The findings were published in February in the journal Science. Dr. Thomas Kwiatkowski, lead author of the report, says their discovery “puts us closer to identifying the link between inherited and sporadic ALS as well as new targets for drug designs.”