After her uncle was diagnosed with ALS, Lily Hall, now a senior at Friendswood High School, took action. What she didn’t realize was that her passion would inspire an entire community to join the fight to end ALS.
Understanding the Impact of ALS
Lily Hall, like many high schoolers in Texas, is a busy student. She finds time for extra-curriculars, such as editing her yearbook and previously being a 3-year captain of the cheer team. Though one thing sets Lily’s high school experience apart from others—her uncle has ALS.
Lily describes the experience of finding out her uncle Craig had this terrible disease. At 10-years-old, she and her older brother would arrive home from school for her mom to break the news. “At that time period, I really didn’t understand what was going on,” she shared.
As his disease progressed, their family dynamic shifted. Lily recalls how they used to spend every holiday with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. However, since her uncle’s diagnosis, it’s been harder for the family to get together. At first, she didn’t understand this change, but over the next several years her perspective shifted.
“I started getting older, and I became more aware of what ALS was and how it affected people.”
When Lily came to a complete understanding of the gravity of ALS, it lit a fire in her. She wanted to learn more about the disease and spread awareness to those around her.
Finding Inspiration for the Cause
After Lily started high school, she was ready to join the fight against ALS. She shared that other family members who were involved in inspired her to pursue her own ideas. Her father frequently raised funds at his job. And her brother supported a Walk to Defeat ALS at his university, Davidson College in North Carolina.
“My freshman year was when I started thinking about it,” Lilly noted. For several years, she brainstormed, and finally last summer, inspiration struck. One day, she attended a cheer practice to help get photos for the football program. The photographer edited a photo, incorporating all facets of the program—the team, cheer squad, band, dance team, trainers, etc.
My wheels started clicking. All those people play an important role in how our football games go. I want to incorporate every person that I possibly could—every sport and club from my high school—to get involved in this ALS project.
That’s when she knew that getting the entire school involved was key to her mission. Lily worked to secure a volunteer representative from each sport and club at her school to join the cause. The last thing she had to do was decide how to bring people together. She’d soon decide to host an Ice Bucket Challenge. “I wanted to do something fun and interactive, something that people would want to get involved with. And I knew an ice bucket challenge would be an exciting way to do it.”
As Lily started planning the event, she connected with another local woman with ALS, Lucia Boone, for support. It was through this friendship that Lily discovered the impact of strong community connections. Lucia’s entire support group, a.k.a. Lucia Love, were a tremendous help, offering volunteers and managing T-shirt sales for the event.
Friendswood Comes Together to End ALS
On October 6, 2021, Lily Hall hosted the FHS vs ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at her high school’s football field. She only expected students to get involved, but that was far from the case. More than 250 students, faculty, family, and community members joined the event. “It turned into something completely amazing that I never would’ve thought could happen,” Lily joyfully shared. “I felt so supported by my community and everyone around me, so loved.”
All in all, Lily only expected the challenge to raise a few thousand dollars. However, the FHS vs ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $30,000 for the ALS Association of Texas. These funds will support crucial local care programs for Texans with ALS and critical research for a cure. “Never in a million years would I have thought I could’ve raised that much money!” she exclaimed.
A Message to Other ALS Youth
Lily wants to do more to support those living with ALS in the future by raising awareness to the disease. “I hope that more people around the world start to realize what it is…and raise the funds for it,” she shared.
When asked what she’d say to other youth who love someone with ALS, she encouraged them to be a helpful hand. “Be there to support that person…do the most that you think you can do.” Lily shared she also wants ALS youth to feel empowered to organize their own fundraising efforts. Whether it’s $5 or $30,000 raised, every penny brings us closer to a world without ALS.
Don’t be afraid…Just go for it and try. You never know what it could turn into… – Lily Hall
Photos provided by DC Stanley Photography.