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Home > Executive Director Tanner Hockensmith Shares Experience with ALS, Vision for Texas Chapter

Executive Director Tanner Hockensmith Shares Experience with ALS, Vision for Texas Chapter

by | Jul 7, 2016

Life is funny. If someone had told me when I graduated college that I would be leading an effort to help people with ALS and to put an end to this disease, my response would have been “ALS? What the heck is that?” But now, I can’t imagine a life not knowing what it is, not fighting every day to ensure patients get quality care, and not fighting like hell to find a cure for this disease.

Hockensmith Family

I didn’t have a personal connection to ALS prior to joining The ALS Association in 2013. I worked in faith-based nonprofits and on arts and culture projects in urban Dallas. After about ten years, I knew it was time to move on to something new. I hadn’t been looking for something in health – really, this job found me. And I couldn’t be happier.

I wasn’t into this job for one week before the amazing people battling ALS grabbed my heart. Every day I am inspired by the people we serve. The ability for those fighting this disease to rise above it and fight is something I will never be able to let go of. I wish it was different. I wish that I was meeting these people outside of an ALS diagnosis. I wish this disease was not stealing amazing men and women everyday. I wish like hell ALS didn’t take my friends. It is these wishes that drive me to be active in the fight, not to sit idle.

Tanner_Clay Shoot

The Texas Chapter has grown a lot in the past few years, but we still have a lot of growing to do. We have significantly increased the amount of people we serve. We have added clinics, started a general grant program to help families with medical expenses, and increased our investment into our national research programs. But we need to do more. We have to do more.

My vision for our Chapter is twofold: Serve every person living with ALS in Texas, and be the largest contributor to research in the nation. I truly believe our great state of Texas can lead the effort in finding a treatment and a cure for ALS. However, the Texas Chapter cannot and will not do it alone.

Our Chapter recently started the process of creating a new strategic plan. It was a difficult process. We laid everything out on the table. We didn’t ignore difficult conversations. In some cases, it meant letting go of programs and people. Growth is always painful, but it refocused us.

Tanner_Golf TourneyThrough the strategic planning process, we learned many truths, but one in particular that I hold onto is the importance of partnerships. I am a firm believer that we can go much further together than we can alone. For an organization like ours, that means breaking down walls of pride or thinking we have it all figured out. Big surprise – we don’t. But we, as the Texas Chapter, will leave no stone unturned in the quest to find a cure to ALS, and we certainly can’t do it alone.

We see the amazing work organizations like Every 90 Minutes and Team Gleason are doing to care for patients and invest into research. We see the great work on a national level that The ALS Association, MDA, and ALS TDI are doing to fight this disease. Whether you’re a donor, a company, or an ALS organization, reach out and start a conversation with us about how we can work together to fight ALS on all fronts. We may not always see eye to eye on everything, but we can work through that. We all care about people getting quality care and putting an end to this terrible disease. Let’s start a conversation and go from there. I believe amazing things could happen if we all worked together.

How ALS Patients Can Help

Once you’ve been diagnosed with ALS, it’s easy to feel like you just don’t have many options, but there are ways you can make a difference.

How You Can Help People With ALS

We all have a part to play in the fight against ALS! Your generous support funds critical research for better treatments and a cure for this disease. Here are a few ways you can help: