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May 2024 Volunteer of the Month: Howard Patton

ALS does not just impact the person diagnosed with the disease. It impacts entire families and communities. Events like the ALS United Walk bring together extended families to support loved ones in their ALS battles.

That support extends to the staff of ALS United Mid-Atlantic, who take the mission to heart in all that they do. When ALS United Mid-Atlantic needed volunteers for local events, Special Events Manager Carla Patton reached out to her family and welcomed her cousin Howard to share his time and energy. Howard Patton’s kindness and patience have been on display time and again, which is why he is the ALS United Mid-Atlantic May 2024 Volunteer of the Month.

Howard recalls that his first event as a volunteer was the Sips and Sweets fundraiser. Carla asked him to help to make sure the event ran smoothly and he was impressed by how the event was executed and by what he learned about the ALS mission. Before volunteering, Howard had basic knowledge about Lou Gehrig and ALS, but now he understood the details of the disease, the needs of patients, and the wide variety of programs and research offered through ALS United Mid-Atlantic.

From that first event, Howard learned that ALS was much more common than he had expected. When he shared photos after events, he found out that a former classmate had lost a parent to ALS. During events, he met and listened to many perspectives, taking in stories from patients, caregivers, surviving spouses, doctors, and researchers. Howard took those stories to heart and continued to recommit to the ALS cause each time.

Howard jumped at the chance to participate in more events in any way that he could be useful. He took part in caregiver events, the ALS United Walk, All In for ALS at The Fuge, the Annual Celebration, and the Flower Sale in Hershey, PA. Each event meant something different and special, but he particularly liked the outdoor events and the connection to the ALS Treatment Centers.

Not only has Howard Patton participated in nearly every kind of event run by ALS United Mid-Atlantic, but he’s also assisted with nearly every volunteer role possible. He helps with table set-up, registration, t-shirt distribution, auctions, and loading the van after the event is concluded. If he can be useful, Howard is there, and the guests at events have a better experience because of his efforts.

People remember Howard because of his kindness and how they make them feel.

Howard has his own special memories from events that have stayed with him and inspire him to continue to volunteer.

“One 30 second encounter at the Ocean City ALS United Walk really sticks with me,” said Howard. “Just when I thought I was ‘just handing out t-shirts,’ a woman approached the table to receive hers. Proudly, she slightly lifted the ALS shirt that she was wearing only to reveal that she was layered with a few shirts from prior years. That’s when I clearly understood what getting that shirt really means. Yes, what’s printed on it marks the event and promotes awareness about ALS, but moreover, for her and others it’s a milestone that marks another year of life; another year with their loved one. There’s joy in that. It also represents their hope for the future. There’s pride in wearing that shirt (or three) to show support for ALS United Mid-Atlantic’s efforts in supporting patients and their families. They know it’s real.”

We know it’s real when Howard Patton shows up to volunteer at an event. Whether he is helping with registration or listening to a Walk captain, Howard represents the commitment from ALS United Mid-Atlantic to value every person in their ALS journey and to unite and empower the entire ALS community.

Thank you, Howard, for all that you do for the ALS cause and for encouraging others every step of the way.

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