A journey with ALS: Vaillancourt earns award for work for ALS awareness

NANAIMO – Vaillancourt advocates on behalf of ALS patients for better care and resources.

Nanaimo’s Serge Vaillancourt smiled ear-to-ear as he ambled to the podium to accept the ALS Society of B.C. Exceptional Public Awareness Award last week.

The 66-year-old has been living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a terminal disease that paralyzes the muscles. When he leaned into the mike at the award ceremony, he told the crowd at Richmond’s Quilchena Golf and Country Club exactly why he was still there: “I am in the fight to win against ALS.”

Vaillancourt, an organ donor recipient and advocate, was diagnosed two years ago with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In the span of a few months, his condition has gotten worse. He has gone from walking independently to needing the help of a wheelchair, from eating food to getting liquid supplements through a feeding tube. The weakened muscles in his throat have made it hard to speak and swallow. But despite the new challenges, Vaillancourt said he’s determined stay positive, to do what he can to help others and spread the word about ALS. He will not let the disease keep him from doing what he can to help others, he said.

At the award ceremony on April 8 the ALS Society of B.C. recognized him for his work, which included promoting the Mid Island Walk for ALS and sharing his journey with the disease with the News Bulletin. Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something and Vaillancourt is a shining example of this, the society wrote in a press release.

“When I found out about the ALS society … I was propelled to do what I could to help,” Serge said, as he accepted the recognition. “I didn’t even know about this award. I am being recognized not because I entered a competition but for doing what I felt was the right thing to do.”

This is the last article in a four-part series on ALS, which included Serge’s story; Care for ALS patients often falls to spouse; The search for a cure.