Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Trip to raise funds, hope


Couple travels country to cross Golden Gate

By Jaclyn Giovis
Enquirer Contributor

        TRENTON — Kyle Hahn can barely move his lips, but he was able to communicate a dream to his girlfriend. He wanted to travel to California and cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

        At 11 a.m. Thursday, Mr. Hahn will begin that journey from his home here — in a wheelchair-accessible van.

        Mr. Hahn, 42, has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Equipped with his motorized wheelchair, which he operates by moving his head, Mr. Hahn and his girlfriend, Terry Frank, 45, will journey west to raise awareness of the disease and money for a cure.

[photo] Kyle Hahn, who has ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and his girlfriend Terry Frank, with the van they'll take to California.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        After his diagnosis in 1997, Mr. Hahn founded March of Faces, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising ALS awareness. The organization has raised more than $100,000.

        March of Faces has held events in more than 20 states, distributes an ALS Awareness Ribbon, and is an Internet resource for people with ALS, known as PALS. It collected pictures of ALS victims and created a banner of their faces.

        Mr. Hahn uses a laptop computer as a communication device, keeping the March of Faces Web site up-to-date. A device connected to the laptop reads light reflected off a dot on Mr. Hahn's glasses.

        Those close to Mr. Hahn read his lips as he spells words a letter at a time.

        “I would travel to the ends of the earth for Kyle,” said Ms. Frank. “He's my hero.”

        The couple will make 19 stops before reaching San Francisco May 31.

        On June 3 Mr. Hahn and other PALS will cross the Golden Gate Bridge in their wheelchairs as a gesture of strength and hope.

        “When he (talks) about (March of Faces) he gets all excited. ... You can see it in his eyes ... on his face,” said Valerie Rucker, a home health aide who has worked with Mr. Hahn for more than two years.

        Mr. Hahn said March of Faces has inspired him to stay active in making music and volunteerism. A former guitar player in local bands, he composes music on a computer.

        ALS kills nerve cells in the spinal cord that are responsible for all voluntary movement. PALS retain full mental capacity, but within five years, victims often are paralyzed, unable to speak, swallow or breathe.

        To make a donation or volunteer with March of Faces, contact Terry Frank at 988-0796 or call toll free (877) 884-4798, e-mail als@march-of-faces.org or visit Mr. Hahn's Web site at march-of-faces.org.
       



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