EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Kathy Hult has been honored with a 2011 Eleven Who Care award for her years of work for the ALS Association and Helping Paws of Minnesota.
A strong spirit
Kathy has lived with ALS for more than a decade. The motor neuron disease is slowly stealing her strength, But it has not touched her spirit.
"When you have ALS, you know today is going to be better than days down the road," she explained. "Every morning you can wake up and make the decision to embrace the day."
That mindset has served Kathy well for the dozen years she has lived with ALS. It is a mindset she hopes will help folks who are just getting an ALS diagnosis.
"She continues to teach newly diagnosed people and their families," said Lisa Kronk, a nurse with the ALS Association. "She has traveled the state with our staff to show how to do things differently when you have a disability."
Leading by example
Kathy does the same for Helping Paws of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to further the independence of people with physical disabilities.
Kathy conducts demonstrations on how her dog Claire helps with everything from picking up dropped keys to opening closed doors.
"I have just wanted to do to do everything I can to help others deal with the disease in the best way possible," Kathy said. "To take the blinders off and say, 'what are the possibilities?'"
That is the same question Kathy asked ten years ago, while organizing Minnesota's first Walk to Defeat ALS.
Funding the search for a cure
"Our goal was $100,000. Everybody told me I was crazy," Kathy smiled. "But if you don't have that vision, you won't accomplish it."
Kathy set the bar high and ended up surprising even herself. The first Walk to Defeat ALS in Minnesota had 1200 participants and raised $220,000. It was the first success in a fundraising effort that at last count had topped $4.5 million.
"The money she has helped us raise has helped hundreds and hundreds of other people and their families living with this disease," Lisa Kronk said. "I speak for the entire chapter, when I say that we are so grateful to Kathy for what she's done."
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)