Kip Jackson hopes to find a cure for ALS. (Photo: THV 11 News)
SHERWOOD (KTHV) -- For one Sherwood man, the value of life now has new meaning. Kip Jackson was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a paralyzing condition that is deadly. His story is an inspiring one and a journey he hopes motivates others to join his mission of finding a cure.
When you first meet Jackson, it doesn't take long before he's gushing about his wife.
He says, "We are best friends."
It was love at first sight for this married couple of 5 years. He says, "She has been my strength and inspiration."
It's a partnership honoring their vow "in sickness and in health."
"When I am in public places, everybody cues in on the guy in the wheelchair. I want everyone to see this smile," cries Jackson.
"Its getting the most out of every day of life," says Jackson.
It's been nine months since 41-year-old Jackson was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spine.
Before then, he was healthy, life was normal. The symptoms started with his legs. He says, "For instance I tripped over a what I thought was a crack in the sidewalk.
Then, his speech started slurring.
Not long after, Jackson lost his ability to walk. He's been in a wheelchair since October. Doctors say most ALS patients will survive three to five years. He says, "They haven't gone out and said, 'Kip you have this much time to live', but I can tell it is progressing rapidly."
Jackson takes about six medications every day. He's also added a dog to the family. She helps serve as a companion when his wife is away at work.
"Everything changes. But you adjust to it and you go on," explains Jackson,
It's that determination and that positive attitude that got him chosen to be the honorary chair for this year's Arkansas ALS walk.
Jackson recently started a blog concentrating on his disease. His goal is to help others. He says, "This disease will take away my ability to move. It will take away my ability to breathe into a smile. But it will not take away affect my soul."
It's a journey he hopes will motivate.
Jackson says, "There are new norms every day."
But, it's also one with many blessings.
Every 90 minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes someone with the disease dies.
With a cure, that cycle can stop. The 4th annual Walk to Defeat ALS is Saturday April 6 at the Clinton Library. The goal is to raise money for research. The walk starts at 10 a.m. Tom Brannon will be the MCee for the event.