Friday’s event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Stratton Hall and is for adults age 21 and older, with regular tickets starting at $50 and VIP tickets for $100. Tickets and more information are available at allinforALS.eventbrite.com or by calling 615-331-5556.
Ever since his diagnosis in November 2016, Chattanooga resident Craig Carter has envisioned raising support for other people afflicted by a disease that has long "been in the shadows": amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.
And on Friday, Carter's vision will come to fruition when the ALS Association Tennessee Chapter hosts the first "All in for ALS" charity casino night at Stratton Hall in Chattanooga. The event will feature authentic casino games, professional dealers, an open bar, music, silent auction and photo booth, with funds going to support local patients.
"You don't hear a whole lot about ALS, but just about everybody you talk to knows somebody that either had it directly affect them or somebody in their family," Carter said. "It's a lot more prevalent than I think people realize."
The progressive disease attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement, often leading to total paralysis and death within two to five years. The disease has no known cause or cure and affects approximately 450 Tennesseans, killing about 130 people in the state each year.
"It's just a devastating disease physically and financially," Carter said. "When I'm in a wheelchair and can't walk anymore, we're going to have to modify the house, probably going to have to buy a wheelchair-accessible van ... some of these new wheelchairs are $50,000."
Dr. Joshua Alpers directs the ALS clinic at Erlanger, which is also sponsored by the association and provides services ranging from physical and occupational therapy to respiratory care and neuropsychology.
Most funds from the casino night will go to support individual patients and the clinic, which loans equipment and offers a support group that meets on the third Tuesday of each month. The remaining proceeds will go to discovering treatments and a cure.
"This event is something that truly does directly benefit the ALS community and local patients," said Alpers, adding that caring for someone within the first year of a diagnosis can cost between $250,000 and $300,000.
The clinic at Erlanger is one of three of its kind in the state, and the only one in East Tennessee.
"It's really hard for ALS patients, the further we get into this, to move and get out and do things, so it's so convenient to go to one place," Carter said "You get everything done in one day, instead of having to make seven or eight visits."
"I hope we can build off this one for the next one," Carter said. "This is really for the next generation."
Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6673.