Local couple hits the road to raise money, awareness of ALS

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 6:27 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS every year. A local couple is driving across the country to raise money and awareness for the disease.

John Robert Herzberg says his godfather, Mark Lang, is adventurous and always trying something new.

“He’s a very active guy,” Herzberg said. “I guess he introduced me to getting out there and doing things.”

Three years ago, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“When you have it, you become a vegetable, but your mind is completely fine,” Herzberg said. “So you’re like trapped in your own body.”

Herzberg says his godfather is in the late stages of the disease, meaning he’s lost his ability to walk and talk.

“There’s no treatment for this disease,” Herzberg said. “Once you get it, it’s a death sentence. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s rough. That’s why we wanted to do something to raise awareness for this disease.”

That something is a cross-country drive to California and back with his girlfriend, Bethany, to raise money and awareness.

“Trying to raise $1 per mile, so it’s about 5,000 miles, so we’re trying to raise that money for ALS,” Herzberg said.

The drive starts Monday. They wanted to hit places they’d never been, so they’ll make stops in New Orleans, Memphis, the Grand Canyon, and other places along the way. The whole trip will take about two weeks.

“I had to do something. I couldn’t just sit back and watch him,” Herzberg said. “I feel like I had to do something.”

Herzberg is a student at Augusta Tech, so he’ll be doing school work on the road. But the biggest challenge?

“We’ve never stayed with each other this long for that much time. But we’ll see how it works out,” Herzberg said.

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