Father riding bike from Florida to Massachusetts to raise money for ALS non-profit in Falmouth
NORTHBOROUGH - Jim Bruce will never forget the day he learned the devastating news that his son Matt had been diagnosed with ALS.
"It was like someone punched you in the stomach as hard as they could. Your whole world just dropped out from under you and at that point we didn't know what to do," he told WBZ.
So, Jim and his family turned to Compassionate Care ALS, a non-profit organization based in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
"Ron, the founder, came to our home and talked to us about what to expect," said Bruce. "He gave us the ability to take a deep breath and this is what it's going to look like and this is how we can help and he did."
Ron Hoffman founded CCALS in 2003 to help enhance the quality of life for people living with the fatal illness and to provide support to their families.
"Whether it's physical support, emotional support, spiritual support," said Hoffman. "That's what's important, to let people know they actually aren't alone."
CCALS offers counseling, crucial equipment often not covered by insurance and they even converted an old Cape Cod inn into a handicap-accessible sanctuary where families can come stay for free.
"We've had people from all over the country come here. It's a place to just be - nothing to do. Just be in a beautiful environment and rest," said Hoffman.
Wanting to give back, Bruce began fundraising for CCALS in 2014 by running the Falmouth Road Race. The organization gave him a special race wheelchair so he could push his son, but sadly, Matt passed away just months before at the age of 26.
"So that year I put his picture in the wheelchair and pushed it empty with his picture," said Bruce. "Every year after that I push somebody in the race that's living with ALS and it's an honor to do that."
Now, Jim is embarking on his most challenging fundraising journey yet - biking from Falmouth, Florida to Falmouth, Massachusetts. He's on a mission to raise money for CCALS so that more families can receive the same support they did during their darkest time.
"Until that cure is found what Ron does helps people get through that initial diagnosis until the end and that is huge," said Jim.
Jim and his friend, Diane Stokes, will bike about 1,600 miles over a month, making 29 stops along the way. At each stop, they will meet with a family affected by ALS.
"It's going to be emotional. I hope we get to forge some new friendships and stay in touch with people, but the reality of it is, I just want to see them and let them know why I'm doing this and tell them about my son and what we went through and support the effort as much as we can," said Jim.
And with every mile, he'll be keeping Matt's memory alive.
"He always said I hope no one forgets me and here we are nine years later and we're not forgetting you," said Bruce.
CCALS is currently helping about a thousand families who are coping with an ALS diagnosis. That's including about 90 new intakes just since January of this year. Jim Bruce is hoping to raise $100,000 and is halfway to his goal. To make a donation, click here.
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