A viral internet challenge a few years ago had people pouring buckets of ice over themselves to simulate the symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
For McComb resident Jessica Troutman, it is her reality.
“ALS affects every aspect of your life, the physical and the emotional. This disease threatens to steal the big and small moments,” she said. “You get to make a choice every day, to live or to give up and give in. I choose life.”
Troutman, 32, said it is important to her to bring awareness to the disease, which she was diagnosed with in September 2020.
Troutman had a long road to her diagnosis, having battled her symptoms for seven years.
ALS degenerates motor neurons along the spinal column, causing those with the disease to slowly lose mobility and control of muscle functions, including the possibility of losing the ability to use passive muscle functions, such as breathing, eating and speaking, according to the ALS Association.
Once diagnosed, the average lifespan for those with the disease is between two to five years.
There is no cure.
“After all this disease has taken and will take from me, it’s also given me a chance to live my life to the fullest extent, to find the joy in the small and big, to drink the good wine, enjoy friends and family, and be thankful you woke up on this side of the dirt,” Troutman said.
She said part of what helps her get through the day is remembering a quote from famous television evangelical preacher Billy Graham: “Mountain tops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valley.”
“Although this valley is deep and sometimes very dark, I know there will come a day through donations to medical research and legislative changes that there will be treatment options and even a cure in others’ lifetimes. For that possibility I am thankful and hopeful,” she said.
Friends of Troutman, including Pike County Chamber of Commerce Director Catherine Sanders, Farm Bureau Insurance agent Bubba Moak and First Bank President Brad Whitaker, came together when they learned of the diagnosis and set up a golf tournament and silent auction Friday at the Fernwood Country Club to raise money for the family and bring awareness to ALS, as it is an expensive disease with costly treatments.
There will be two tee times for the tournament, the first at 8 a.m. with check in at 7:15 a.m. and the second will be 1 p.m. with a 12:15 p.m. check in. Lunch will be served between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The tournament will be four-person teams with prizes awarded for putting, longest drive, closest to the hole on all par 3s and straightest drive contests included. Team buy-in is $400 per team and corporate sponsorships with a team are $450.
The silent auction will be at 6 p.m. in the ballroom of the country club with a $30 entry and a barbecue dinner.
For those who wish to donate, there is an account with First Bank with the name “Troutpond Tackles ALS” that can be used.