Local ALS Patient Receives Global Support

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LOVES PARK- Kris Grahnke was an active individual, a runner who was always outdoor and always keeping busy.  But in January of 2014, he noticed something that would change his life forever.

 

“I was trippin’ up over my right foot as I was running, which is a very odd thing, and so that’s where it kind of, I started to see something’s not really right,” says Grahnke.

 

He eventually saw a neurologist, and that’s when he got the news that would turn his world around.  “That neurologist, without doing any tests, this that or the next, just said ‘do you have life insurance? Because you have ALS.'”

 

After several tests, his diagnosis was confirmed. “I still didn’t believe it,” says Kris’ wife, Michelle.

 

The two had been married for almost one year at this point.  They decided to move, from their residence in Chicago, to Loves Park, to be closer to family.   Kris began teaching at Whitman Elementary in Rockton and that’s where he met his co-workers, who would do something for a man they had only known for a short time.  They put together a GoFundMe page for Kris, and they began seeing results immediately. 

 

“We had $8,000 in under 48 hours, I mean it was just, it was insane,” Kris says.

 

The outpouring of support gave him renewed motivation.  “If people are really praying and kicking for me and showing me this much love and support, I can’t be wallowing in this.”

 

Since his diagnosis last year, he has gone from using a cane to his current power chair, accommodations that come with a steep price.

 

“This power chair alone: $12,000.  We had to buy the van that’s outside so I can get around and not have to transfer in and out of a wheelchair.  We had to modify the bathroom.  We had to modify my bedroom.”

 

But, thanks to all the donations, he was able to afford what he needed.  He’s received over $25,000 so far, and many of the donations coming from complete strangers.  

 

“People from China and India throwing you $150 and they have no idea who you are, that’s pretty incredible.”

 

Kris is now dedicated to raising awareness about ALS and was able to take a trip to the nation’s capital to share his story.

 

“[I] drove up on Capitol Hill in my little scooter, talked to reps, yelled at some reps, cried in front of some reps. Met some incredible people.”

 

And through it all, he’s had his wife by his side.

 

“I do everything, if he needs it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I wouldn’t want any one else to do it for him,” says Michelle.

 

And Kris says he won’t let this disease define him.  “The world is good, life is good, this disease isn’t my life.  It’s a part of me. It’s a characteristic, it’s not me whole heartedly.”

 

“He’s a fighter and that’s why I think if anyone can handle this he can,” adds Michelle.

 

To donate you can visit Kris’ GoFundMe page at:  http://www.gofundme.com/ruvskw

And to learn more about the disease and what you can do to help, check out the ALS Greater Chicago Chapter website at: http://webchicago.alsa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=CHI_homepage

 

Also you can follow his blog at: gronksgrace.blogspot.com

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