April 28, 2015


In April 2013, my grandfather, known to his 8 grandchildren as “Papa Doug”, was diagnosed with ALS.  Papa Doug was one of the healthiest people I’ve ever known. He exercised every day, was careful about the food he ate, and never had a sip of coffee or a puff of a cigarette.  In fact, when his doctor informed him that he had high cholesterol, he immediately altered his diet, and lowered his levels without the aid of medication.


Back in 2012, Papa’s leg began to bother him. The pain began to prevent him from enjoying his day-to-day routines. He went to the doctor and was told that the pain was not caused by ALS. The doctors tested him for all sorts of possible ailments; he was even sent to physical therapy to lessen his pain. When the pain continued to get worse, he went back to the doctor. In the spring of 2013 he learned that ALS was the cause of his mobility challenges.


Papa Doug was known affectionately as the “fearless leader” in my family. As his grandchild, I had a different perspective of my grandfather than my dad and his siblings. In my eyes, he truly was the fearless leader.  He remembered little details about you and would do nice things for people in his life- whether he met you once or a thousand times. He was full of advice and wisdom, listening to our problems offering thoughtful solutions. He was quick-witted- you could never get anything past him. He treasured family- loved playing cards, especially “pitch” with us.   At any opportunity, he found a way to take part in our lives.  ALS did not change that about him.


In early 2014, I learned about the Harpoon 5-miler which benefits the Angel Fund. I immediately wanted to partake to show my support for Papa Doug and anyone else affected by the disease.  A group of 6 of us created a team and ran our hearts out. Papa Doug was honored to know that we ran for him.  Despite ALS, Papa Doug remained a constant example of how to stay positive and remain engaged with life.


Papa Doug died on January 20, 2015. We miss him every day. To honor our “fearless leader” we will travel from Syracuse to Boston to participate in the race, and raise funds to one-day cure ALS.


If you'd like to support our team, please visit Papa Doug's Team Page.


Emily Blanchard