The ALS Therapy Development Institute announced today its 2017 Leadership Award recipients. This year's recipients are Rick Marks, Collin & Emily Hadley, Michael “Boomer” Wallace and Osiel & Bella Mendoza. The recipients were chosen from among dozens of nominations made by members of the ALS community throughout 2017.

Rick Marks – Fran Delaney Challenge & Respect Awards

Rick Marks of Winchester, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with ALS in October 2016. He became an advocate for ALS research and was involved in multiple endeavors, including hiking 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Massachusetts to Maine this past summer. Rick’s hike raised significant awareness of ALS through media coverage by People Magazine, Inside Edition, and television stations across the country. Proceeds from Rick’s hike went to ALS ONE, a partnership to advance treatments for ALS that includes the work done by ALS TDI. Details of Rick’s “epic hike," such as stories of people who joined him for portions of the journey, can be found online here. (Rick and his wife are in the second picture above)

Collin & Emily Hadley – Mary Lou Krauseneck Courage & Love Award

Collin Hadley was diagnosed with ALS in October 2014. He and his wife, Emily, became deeply involved in the ALS community. Through an online blog “Curveball Hadley”, they documented their experiences participating in clinical trials, including a stem cell based trial conducted by Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics and the Precision Medicine Program by ALS TDI. Collin and Emily also held fundraisers in their local Fort Worth, Texas community, including a concert and barbecue event. A video recapping that event says it all and can be viewed here. (Collin, Emily, and their kids are in the fourth picture above)

Michael “Boomer” Wallace – Stephen Milne Adventurous Spirit Award

Following his diagnosis with ALS in June 2016, Boomer became deeply involved in the battle to end ALS. Through business connections, he began working in earnest to create broad awareness of ALS. During the 2017 May ALS Awareness month, his work lead to major campaigns among top retailers including Ramy Brook, Lettuce Entertain You, Rue La La, Lilly Pulitzer, and many others in support of ALS research. More information about Boomer’s efforts can be found online here. (Boomer and his kids are in the first picture above)

Osiel & Bella Mendoza – Stephen Heywood Patients Today Award

Osiel was diagnosed with ALS in October 2016 at age 21. Less than a year later, he married Bella, his girlfriend since age 13. Osiel and Bella are committed to raising awareness of ALS. Together, they came up with the "#YokeUp4ALS Challenge," which went viral with thousands of people accepting the Challenge and donating to ALS research. Osiel has become deeply involved in the work at ALS TDI: speaking to scientists about his battle, partnering with the development and marketing teams to share his story, and meeting with other newly diagnosed families to offer them hope and fellowship. Osiel spoke at the 2017 White Coat Affair Gala in Boston, a video of which can be viewed online here. (Osiel and Bella are in the third picture above)

“The chance to recognize leaders in the ALS community is a humbling one," says Steve Perrin, Ph.D, CEO & CSO of ALS TDI. "This battle is a personal one, and we meet incredible people who are hit with this disease every day. The nominations we received this year were overwhelming and came from all over the country. The ALS community is full of people who lead us, inspire us and remind us of all the reasons that we can never give up. Rick, Collin, Emily, Michael, Osiel and Bella are examples of leadership and it is our privilege at ALS TDI to recognize them on behalf of the ALS community.” 

To learn more about the Leadership Awards, including those who have received them in the past, click here.