FRANKFORT, Ind. (WLFI) - The Frankfort community is rallying behind a retired police officer who was recently diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig's disease.
On February 8th, Officer Rob Bales was given the news that he had the incurable disease. His wife, Teresa, says that the disease can target the throat and eventually make it impossible for patients to talk, eat, and breathe.
"We’re just kind of trying to enjoy life as best as we can with knowing that he has this illness," said Teresa. "We are just hoping for time and hoping for a cure,"
Bales took early retirement last week, but it wouldn't have been possible without the help from his fellow officers. They donated vacation and sick days to him.
"It was just emotional that they would reach out to help that much. Words could never thank what this community has done for us and Rob and our family," said Teresa.
In July, a 5-K was made in support of Bales. All the proceeds went directly to him to cover medical costs and for his retirement. Teresa says that after the end of this month, Rob will no longer be given health insurance, therefore, donations and fundraisers become essential to their family.
“Just the donations, in general, have helped because the medical insurance won’t pay for a lot of ALS treatment, so we have to pay out of pocket," said Teresa.
Every three months Rob and Teresa head to Chicago to receive treatment from the ALS clinic, and appointments can take up to five hours.
“It’s hard to swallow, it’s hard to breathe at times,” said Rob. “Everything in me isn’t functioning, my muscles are very weak.”
Rob is a stepfather to three girls and also a grandfather. He said last summer that he started experiencing symptoms, but was not expecting the results he was given in February.
“My whole life changed that day in the doctor's office,” said Rob. “Any plans I may have had for the future was wiped away.”
Rob's stepdaughter, Cassie Johns, says they were in tears to hear that their stepfather would be fighting this illness.
“Just seeing his health decline, it’s just really hard to watch,” said Johns. "When I was talking to my mom, I immediately went into what can we do mode.”
So they decided to promote awareness of ALS online by using #BalesStrong.
"We are not going to just accept it and lay down and it'd be over, we are going to have hope," said Teresa.
"AWARENESS! Get the word out there about ALS," stated Rob.
To support the family you can use #BalesStrong on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.