It is with Engel’s three-part special report, aired nationally on Global Television, September 15, 16 and 17, 2010, that the difficulties faced by veteran soldiers struggling with ALS without full benefits caught the government’s attention.
Engel pursued this important issue aggressively and consistently by using the power of media. She conducted interviews with two veteran soldiers with ALS: Mike Watson, who fought with the government for more than three years to receive benefits and Brian Dyck, who fought for more than a year to receive benefits.
She also conducted interviews with Dr. Colleen O’Connell, staff physiatrist and research chief at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton, NB and the Honourable Jean‐Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, to help increase awareness of this issue.
Thanks to Engel’s series on ALS, the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada announced on October 15, 2010, that veterans living with ALS will now be eligible for adapted wheelchairs, medical resources, housekeeping services along with increased health benefits.
“It is through Engel’s relentless coverage of this issue that the veterans have earned these much deserved benefits and support from the government,”
The Tony Proudfoot Exceptional Public Awareness Program Award recognizes an individual, a group or the media whose aim is to educate and increase awareness of ALS. Activities in the category may include liaisons with the media, co-ordinating public awareness displays and public speaking. The award was renamed in March 2011 in memory of Tony Proudfoot.
ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive and fatal neuromuscular disease that causes the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the nerve cells die, people with ALS lose control of their muscles, which makes breathing, eating and even smiling almost impossible. Eighty per cent of those diagnosed will die within two to five years.
The ALS Society of Canada, founded in 1977, is the only national voluntary health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS and support for those living with ALS. The Society funds research towards a cure for ALS, supports provincial partners in the provision of quality care for those living with ALS, and provides information to build awareness about the disease. The vision of the ALS Society of Canada is to find a cure for ALS.
For more information, please contact:
Director of Communications
ALS Society of Canada
Tel: 1-800-267-4257 ext. 208