April Paul, a vibrant local lady, has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS became known worldwide with the Ice Bucket Challenge but this is a serious condition. ALS is a disease that involves the neurons in the brain gradually dying and is also commonly known as motor neuron disease.
As the neurons in the brain die, parts of the body become uncontrollable and those with this disease slowly become disabled and will eventually become wheelchair-bound.
One of the first things that happens to people with ALS is a loss of hand eye coordination. This is what has happened to April, being a hairdresser, she is unable to work and is now bed -ridden and wheelchair bound. Paul was a hair dresser for 26 years and has worked in shops in the towns of Petaluma, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park and Cotati and her last job was as a barber in Sebastopol at Lonnie’s Barber Shop.
April’s disease has progressed to the point that her speech is very garbled, which does happen with ALS, but insists on getting her point across. The technical term for speech affliction is laryngeal dysfunction. She poignantly said that don’t forget I was on a skate patrol in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. She formed a group of skaters to raise money for World Hunger in the 80s and the whole bunch skated from the Golden Gate Park to Ventura Beach. She was also an avid dancer and would dance to all kinds of music as her father had introduced her to big band music and then went on to become a disco queen in the 70s and 80s.
April along with her husband Michael, are now asking for assistance as her medication has reached a point they no longer can do it by themselves. In just a few short months they have had to pay a total of $6,200 out of pocket for a new medication called Edravone which is very expensive and won’t be approved until August of this year when their insurance will start to cover it.
The Cotati Lions Club is sponsoring an annual spaghetti dinner June 10, 2017 at the Ner Shalom Congregation Center and the Cotati Lions Club, 85 and 86 La Plaza in Cotati, starting at 4 until 8:30 p.m. The tickets will cost $15 and will include raffle tickets for door prizes. The children under five are free.
Since April is house-bound, this fundraiser will be a special treat for her. She will be riding in a “barn-find” ’57 Belair to the fundraiser and the car will be parked in front of the Lion’s shack. April even named her car Matilda. Michael said since only a daughter relieves him from the day to day care, he thinks back to the time April and Michael met. It was on Halloween in 1989 at Acapulco’s in Santa Rosa. She was a punk rock Easter bunny and he was the Lone Ranger: winning the evening’s contest.
The Pauls are requesting that you should bring your vehicles from the “50s and 60s to help support this event and enjoy a wonderful evening looking at classic cars, enjoying a great spaghetti dinner and participate in the silent auction and raffles. Donations can also be made to www.gofundme.com/AprilsALS. For more information, please contact Art at 707-795-6459 or Diana at 707-799-1815.