Rest in peace, Steven Hillenburg

Another man behind a franchise that helped raise most of the current students on campus and then some have joined the likes of Stan Lee.

Stephen Hillenburg, the SpongeBob SquarePants creator, died Monday from ALS. He was 57.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare terminal illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

According to USA Today, Hillenburg was diagnosed with ALS in 2017 but said he would continue working on “SpongeBob,” which is renewed until 2019.

Though we are saddened by his death and equally saddened by a potential end to one of the many shows we spent hours watching after school, we want to take this time to talk about awareness for ALS rather than the corky show we all know and love.

You probably remember hearing about ALS during the “Ice Bucket” craze.

But, it takes more than an “ice bucket” challenge to raise awareness for a disease.

All that challenge really did was start a viral trend that had absolutely nothing to do with ALS and more to do with that fact that people would rather dump ice water over their heads than donate money to a valid cause.

ALS is still overlooked in some ways, but Hillenburg’s death is a clear example of how important it is to know about it.

According to the ALS Association website, when someone has ALS, their motor neurons that reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body go through a progressive degeneration, and they eventually die.

The motor neurons that die when you have ALS are the ones that provide voluntary movements and muscle control. When these neurons die, the brain’s ability to initiate and control muscle movement is completely lost, and usually this means people lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe, according to the ALS association website.

For example, you know how you love to text or call your mom? Well you can’t do that, you can’t even reach for your phone or step off a curb when you have serious ALS (it is a progressive disease.) It’s like you have no control over your body after a while, and we can imagine how terrible that must feel.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease although people are working on one.  According to the association’s website, scientists are making progress in learning about the disease.

ALS usually affects people between the ages of 40 and 70, according to the ALS Association website. More than 20,000 Americans have the disease at any given time, but the number does fluctuate.

Although there isn’t a cure for the disease, there are treatments for those who have it and resources to help them, including participation in support groups and attending an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence or a recognized treatment center.

The best way for people to truly help is by raising awareness, according the website. This can be done by recognizing that May is ALS Awareness Month or even learning about the disease and ways people are trying to fight it, according to the website.

You could also donate any monetary amount to the association if you want to.

ALS is a serious disease and has affected more people than we care to notice. Let’s remember Hillenburg for bringing us SpongeBob and putting the knowledge of ALS back in the minds of the American people.


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