When Sarah Brendle was diagnosed with ALS over ten years ago, she was a wife, mother of two young boys, and a teacher. She had no idea what the next year would bring, much less the next decade. Since then, she’s given birth to a wonderful daughter, Phoebe, proudly watched all three children excel in school, and given back to the ALS cause in every way possible. That is why we are honored to call Sarah Brendle The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter’s December Volunteer of the Month.
Over the past ten years, Sarah has signed up for every opportunity to advance ALS care and research. She was determined to live the best life possible. Part of that meant doing what she could for others. Sarah’s ALS progression has been slower than others. As a result, Sarah and her family volunteer to support not only her, but all people with ALS, including many friends they have made along the way.
After her diagnosis, Sarah immediately formed a Lehigh Valley Walk to Defeat ALS team. Each year, Steps 4 Sarah is one of the top fundraising teams. The T-shirts may say walking “4 Sarah,” but Sarah knows that the thousands of dollars that the raise will benefit people with ALS everywhere. That is what empowers her to continue. Her husband, brother, and children are all involved with the fundraising and awareness.
In addition to spearheading her Walk team, Sarah has appeared in multiple media opportunities in the Lehigh Valley to promote the walk and the ALS cause. When Google Glass was being developed and showed signs of helping people with disabilities, Sarah offered to test it and was profiled in her local newspaper.
Sarah and her family support the work of the Chapter in a myriad of ways. They frequently attend the Chapter’s Patient and Family Holiday Party and spread the word about events at ALS support groups. She has also hosted other fundraising events, including a local kickball tournament, which have brought more friends into the cause.
Some of Sarah’s favorite memories have come at the annual Phillies Phestival. She has shared her stories with many leaders with the Phillies organization, including Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies players and management enjoy seeing this dedicated woman and her family, who despite living with ALS, continue to do so much for the ALS community.
Sarah has leapt at every opportunity to support the Chapter, including many things that she had never considered doing before ALS. One of the biggest examples is ALS advocacy. Each Spring, Sarah visits Harrisburg, PA to meet with state legislators and make the case for increasing funding for ALS care in Pennsylvania. She had never been active in government before, but now happily takes on more and more advocacy opportunities, including attending local town halls where possible.
Even with all those examples, one of the most noteworthy things Sarah Brendle has done is to devote her time to ALS research. She has participated in studies at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and tried Brain Computer Interface at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Her hope is that by taking part in trials and research studies, others will benefit and people with ALS will have more treatment options.
“Everyone at the Chapter has always been kind and helpful,” said Sarah. “Even if you can only give a short amount of time once a year, you feel appreciated.”
Thank you, Sarah. On behalf of everyone at the Chapter and everyone in our ALS community we so appreciate everything you are accomplishing to defeat ALS.