Former Deputy Mayor Of New York City Raises Millions For ALS Research—While Living With The Disease Himself

( – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disorder that affects the nervous system. It’s a progressive disease affecting tens of thousands of Americans, and there is currently no cure. Those who have it will experience muscle weakening, which will eventually lead to difficulty swallowing, moving, talking, and loss of coordination, among other symptoms. Dan Doctoroff, who formerly served as New York’s deputy mayor, is now doing his best to raise awareness for the disease while battling it himself.

Doctoroff’s Political Career

Dan Doctoroff was New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding from 2002 to 2008 under Mike Bloomberg. His political career, though short-lived, was impactful for residents of the Big Apple. Doctoroff was instrumental in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he has many more accolades to his name, including the Hudson Yards, High Line, the new Yankees Stadium, Citi Field, and many others. Once a beacon for New York City’s growth, he’s now facing his own mortality.

ALS Diagnosis and Fundraising

In 2021, on the same weekend he welcomed his first grandchild, Doctoroff received the bad news that he has ALS, which typically results in death within two to five years after diagnosis. In an interview with PBS, he sits down with broadcaster Judy Woodruff to discuss how it’s changed his life. Notably, Doctoroff says he used to always look to the future, and now he lives in the day-to-day life, enjoying things as they come.

As for his decline, Doctoroff says he can no longer do many of the activities he loves, such as “biking, walking, things that require a lot of physical exertion.” He’s also channeled the focus he has on his nonprofit, Target ALS, which aims to raise money to research the disease. He established the organization 10 years ago, in 2013, after losing both his father and his uncle to ALS. Following his diagnosis, Doctoroff set a goal to raise $250 million, and as of November 1, he was 90% of the way there.

Doctoroff notes that there has been so much growth in learning about the disease and the genes that cause inherited forms, but that hasn’t — so far — translated into medications that can help people, at least not yet. The former deputy mayor is on a 20-pill-per-day regimen himself. Yet, the only real hope patients with ALS have is to potentially get into a clinical trial that will likely only slow the progression, at best.

Yet, Doctoroff won’t let that stop him. He has a zest for life and says even if he has to be on a feeding tube or ventilator. Additionally, he said he would continue to fight even if it meant “being paralyzed and only being able to communicate with [his] eyes.”

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