BY KYLIE YEATMAN
Following the passing of 31-year-old Ryan Farnsworth from ALS, CHS senior Connor Cohan—Farnsworth’s cousin—has made it his goal to address this fatal disease by hosting his own fundraiser in support of finding a cure.
Cohan’s “Eat to Defeat ALS” fundraiser, set to take place on May 17 at the Moose Lodge in Del Rey Oaks, will involve a dinner, a silent auction and various other festivities with the goal of raising money for the ALS Association. While the disease, which causes progressive muscle failure due to their gradual decrease in size, is currently terminal, Cohan is confident that a cure can be found through raising both awareness and funds.
“The real goal of the dinner is to find a cure for ALS so that no other families are affected by it,” Cohan says. “Ryan’s passing really impacted our family…. We want to raise awareness about that and about ALS.”
Goals of the event include raising $6,000 towards the ALS Association, the flagship charity for the disease. Farnsworth was deeply involved in the Golden West Chapter of the charity, serving as an ambassador for their #VoiceYourLove campaign. Heavy inspiration for the fundraiser was likewise taken from the annual Thirst Gala at CHS, with volunteers acting as waiters playing an important role throughout the night, providing entertainment to guests.
“There’s going to be an ultimate competition for which server receives the most tips,” explains Cohan, adding that an award for “Best Server in the World” will be presented to the most successful server. In adding this competition, more money can be raised toward the charity while providing guests with further incentive for donating.
Donations are central to the fundraiser as, despite heavily funded research, scientists still have been unable to identify the cause of ALS in 95 percent of cases, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS has no known cure—the most successful medication available for treating the disease, Riluzole, may only increase the lifespan of ALS patients by a maximum of three months.
Only 10 percent of those diagnosed with ALS live for more than 10 years after diagnosis. Farnsworth, who had a passion for spreading positivity in the final years of his life, was diagnosed with ALS in 2015, only four years before his passing.
“There’s still a lot that is just not known about ALS,” Cohan says. “That’s why it’s so important that research can get funding and continue.”
Despite immobilization due to the disease, Farnsworth’s life and pursuits provided great inspiration for others suffering from disabilities due to his unwavering devotion to living a fulling life not controlled by his impairment.
Poetry became a particularly strong passion of Farnsworth as he lost muscle strength and the ability to do activities he previously enjoyed, namely hiking and other outdoor athletics. Publishing his own book of poems, “Seeds of Light Sown,” Farnsworth was able to draw further attention to the disease while simultaneously finding a creative outlet. Before his passing, Farnsworth was in the process of writing another book about his struggle with the disease.
Committing the final years of his life to funding ALS research, Farnsworth’s strong emphasis on community involvement and fundraising are reflected in Cohan’s fundraiser.
“I want to do all the things that [Farnsworth] did to continue research for ALS and eventually one day find a cure,” says Cohan, noting the importance of his cousin’s research on his decision to host the fundraiser.
Cohan’s brother Dylan likewise stresses the importance of his cousin’s life and ALS fundraising efforts in the creation of the event.
“Our cousin was really important to us, and that’s why we’re doing this event,” explains Dylan, adding that his family’s ultimate goal is to not only raise awareness for ALS, but to have students and parents outwardly support the cause.
Tickets will be available for $30 until May 12 and may be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by contacting Connor Cohan directly at (831) 869-7850.
“There’s no cure for ALS yet,” Connor emphasizes, “but that doesn’t mean there never will be.”