With help from Major League Baseball, The ALS Association launched a new initiative to offset high home healthcare costs for ALS patients.
To ease the financial burden of home healthcare for people living with ALS and their families, The ALS Association recently launched the ALS Home Health Initiative.
The ALS Association will be working closely with its local chapters to distribute the funds, with the goal of financially augmenting care programs nationwide.
In support of the new initiative, Major League Baseball organized a league-wide fundraising campaign last week called “MLB Fights ALS” [PDF]. Inspired by The ALS Association’s separate home healthcare pilot program in Massachusetts, MLB contacted the association about collaborating on the effort.
MLB, with its own history of activism in fighting ALS, donated $50,000 to start and urged its fans to help the cause. With the initial goal of raising $1 million, MLB promoted the campaign in its ballparks and media channels. The inspiration behind the initiative was Pete Frates, a college baseball player diagnosed with ALS, who is also credited with creating the Ice Bucket Challenge.
“Having the support of an organization like MLB can get us into the homes of individuals that we might not be able to reach,” said Calaneet Balas, executive vice president of strategy at The ALS Association. “They’re a great partner, and we have seen that over the years. Without Major League Baseball, we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now.”
The new initiative is a direct response to a survey of patients and caregivers last summer, which revealed that high healthcare costs was the number-one issue they wanted The ALS Association to tackle.
“[Patients] are entitled to a lot of benefits that they don’t receive, and it’s very expensive,” said Balas. “That’s what inspired us to say we need to look at this from a policy and advocacy side, but also from a care services side as to what can we do to improve people’s lives.”
While the initiative is a good start, Balas said there is still more work to be done. Calling it “a steep, uphill battle,” she said the association is also exploring other fundraising avenues to keep this initiative going strong. To that end, the group has been in talks with several organizations that have shown interest in being involved in future fundraising efforts.
Balas said this initiative is just the beginning of a holistic effort to highlight the financial challenges patients and caregivers face. “People are starting to understand the great need,” she said. “We’ll keep it moving forward, for sure.”