CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Saturday was the second annual “Wheelin’ for ALS” benefit ride hosted in Charleston.
The event started in 2022 to support 24-year-old Jacob Harper, of Winfield, who’s been battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, since March 2022.
More than 125 people brought their vehicles and gathered for Saturday’s ride from the Charleston Moose Lodge to Campbells Creek, and those who joined Jacob and his family on the ride said they want to support him while doing something that he loves: riding trucks, ATVs and other vehicles.
“Jacob is the youngest patient living with ALS in the state of West Virginia. To our knowledge, he is the only patient in West Virginia with the FUS gene mutation,” Jacob’s dad, Dale Harper, said.
Scott Lloyd is the President of Racing for ALS. He has partnered with the Harper family to support Jacob in his battle with ALS.
Lloyd said events like Saturday’s ride aim at raising awareness and hope.
“It’s a disease where when my brother was diagnosed 5 1/2 years ago, [doctors] told him ‘We know as much about ALS today as we knew about cancer 100 years ago.’ That’s just not okay, so everybody’s out here working to make a difference,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd has been personally impacted by ALS since his brother’s diagnosis many years ago, and that’s why he runs ‘Racing for ALS.’
“My brother’s memorial was last Saturday, so yeah, it has a lot of significance for us. We’re fighting hard. We’ve raised over a million dollars. In the last year, with not just what we’re doing but with what everybody’s doing. [Researchers have] come out with three new drugs,” Lloyd said. “There had only been one in the last 160 years.”
Harper said receiving donations and having events like Saturday’s ride are important because raising awareness can lead to more funding for research to find a cure.
“We need awareness, and awareness equals funding. Funding equals research. Research equals a cure,” Harper said.
Harper continued, “Our goal is to see ALS be a livable or curable disease because right now, it’s a 100% mortality rate with ALS. You’re going to die once you get the diagnosis.”
More than $20,000 have been raised since April to support ALS research and Jacob in his fight against ALS.
Anyone who wants to donate to Jacob’s family can visit TeamJacobWV.org