Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin man walks for Lou Gehrig's disease cure

DUNEDIN — Bill Motley served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and later sweated his way through 16 marathons.

Today, he considers himself lucky to be able to walk and talk. After all, many of those diagnosed with his disease can't.

There will be a time when amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease will take away those abilities. Until then, he's using his voice to spread awareness of ALS and his feet to raise money for research.

Saturday, he and his supporters — dubbed the "Motley Crew" — will walk 3.1 miles at Bright House Field in Clearwater in the ALS Association's annual fundraiser. Hundreds will participate at 2:30 p.m. in the Walk to Defeat ALS, which raises money for research and patient care.

Last year, 477 people raised about $100,000. The goal this year is for 600 participants to raise $185,000, said Kamden Alexander, spokeswoman for the ALS Association's Florida Chapter.

There is no cure for ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that paralyzes those who have it. Although their minds stay sharp, those with ALS progressively lose their ability to walk, talk, use their arms and eventually the ability to breathe. The disease is considered rare and is found in about two per 100,000 people in the general population.

Motley, 59, a Dunedin resident, worked as a police communications officer for the city for more than 20 years. After the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office took over, he worked in the code enforcement department for Dunedin and then Tarpon Springs.

He and his wife of 32 years, Camille Motley, have six adult children.

Motley began developing symptoms in 2003 when he started dropping his head and couldn't hold his right arm up when running. His left arm was already paralyzed from a motorcycle accident in 1970. Like all patients who are diagnosed with ALS, he was given two to five years to live. But Motley's progression has been slow.

"(God's) keeping me around for a reason," Motley said.

His marathon days are over. He can't lift a glass or button a shirt, but Motley is still active. His running buddies threw him a surprise party and bought him a racing three-wheeler. He serves on Dunedin's ADA Committee and Environmental Quality Committee. He's part of an ALS support group.

"I'm not going to be idle," he said. "I'm going to do as much as I can to make this disease known because it's so rare."

He thinks his military service made him more prone to developing ALS and encourages other vets with the disease to file a claim with their local Veterans Administration officer.

Although many questions remain about the cause of ALS, studies have shown that those who served in the military are nearly twice as likely to have ALS than those who didn't serve, according to the ALS Association.

Motley hasn't lost his competitive spirit. He and another ALS patient are in a challenge to sign up 100 people to their teams.

"You've got to have your faith, you've got to stay involved in the community," Motley said. "Focused, focused, focused, focused. Just like running a marathon."

He wants people to say he ran a good race.

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at tel-khoury@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4181.

>>If you go

How to help

The Walk to Defeat ALS, a 3.1-mile walk, begins at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Bright House Field. Participants can register the day of the event. Registration is free. Participants get a free ticket to watch the baseball game between the Clearwater Threshers and the Lakeland Tigers at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.alsafl.org

Dunedin man walks for Lou Gehrig's disease cure 04/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 12:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fennelly: About time Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    It's Andy's time.

    And it's about time.

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He had been eligible since 2009, a ridiculously long wait for someone who scored 640 goals, including a record 274 on the power play.

    LEFT: Dave Andreychuk talks at the podium as he is honored with a statue in front of the now-Amalie Arena.
  2. British government says 75 out of 75 buildings failed fire safety tests

    World

    LONDON — Britain on Monday confronted a rapidly growing fire safety crisis after tests of the exterior cladding on dozens of public housing towers revealed a 100 percent failure rate, raising fears that this month's deadly inferno in London could be repeated elsewhere.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. A Spanish judge on Monday June 26, 2017, has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman named by Europa Press agency as Pilar Abel, 61 from the nearby city of Girona. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]
  3. Man convicted of second-degree murder in killing of Baby Doe, his girlfriend's daughter

    Nation

    BOSTON — A man was convicted Monday of murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl who became known as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on the shore of a Boston Harbor island.

    Michael McCarthy’s friend Michael Sprinsky, far left, gets a hug from sister Laura Sprinsky after McCarthy is found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Bella Bond, who became known as Baby Doe.
  4. Rays make Hechavarria trade official

    Blogs

    Here is the release from the team ...

     

  5. Jones: Will Tampa Bay hit a Hall of Fame dry spell now?

    Lightning Strikes

    Marty St. Louis may lack the Hall of Fame stats, but two scoring titles, an MVP award and clutch goals should count for a lot. (Dirk Shadd, Times)