A School Behind a Cause - Speaking Out With Silence
Going a day without speaking can seem like an impossible task; however, more than 500 students at The Village School attempted this difficult feat. Many succeeded.
On Oct. 16, senior Zoe Lalji and her brother, freshman Zade, organized the Village High School’s First Annual “SPEAK OUT WITH SILENCE” Day as a part of their ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) awareness campaign.
After their father, Dr. Ayeez Lalji, was diagnosed with ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that affects the body’s motor neurons, preventing those affected by it from activities like moving, speaking, breathing, chewing and even swallowing, the Laljis started the Lalji ALS Foundation, an official 501(c)(3) established as a source of hope for patients suffering from ALS.
“I realized that instead of dwelling on all the things I couldn’t control, I’d focus on devoting my efforts into the things I could,” Zoe Lalji said. “I know first-hand the suffocating powerlessness associated with ALS and I want to help in any way I can to show those battling ALS that there are options.”
The Lalji ALS Foundation’s vision is to create a world where ALS is a treatable and manageable disease rather than an underfunded and terminal one. The life expectancy of ALS patients after they are diagnosed is usually no more than 5 years, and there is no treatment or cure for the disease. However, the Lalji family’s organization is partnering with facilities around the world to gather research that will help them get one step closer to finding a cure for ALS.
In addition to the day of silence, the Laljis have spread awareness and raised money for the cause through collecting donations, selling Team Lalji t-shirts and writing articles for local magazines. Family and friends also participated in The Houston Walk to Defeat ALS, October 13, and raised $250,000 for the ALS Association. The Laljis have also appeared on Great Day Houston to share their stories with others, and Zoe has even given TED talks (watch one here) to help raise awareness about ALS.
“A huge step in finding the cure for ALS is bringing community awareness for the disease and its brutality,” the ALS Heroes website stated. “Bringing people together behind a cause can move mountains.”
For more information about the Lalji ALS Foundation, visit alsheroes.com.
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