HAYDEN, Idaho -- A local father is experiencing first-hand the impact the Gleason Initiative Foundation is making in the fight against Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Nate Moats and his family are among several Idaho and Washington families Team Gleason has helped cope with the effects of the debilitating disease. Former WSU and NFL star Steve Gleason, who himself suffers from ALS, launched the Gleason Initiative Foundation to raise money and awareness to help people with muscular diseases or injuries live a rewarding life.
Moats was diagnosed with the disease a year and a half ago. Nate suddenly started having trouble speaking. After eight baffling months of testing, the diagnosis came into focus.
“He got in the car and said ‘I have ALS’ and I said, ‘okay what's that,’" said Nate’s 17-year-old daughter Kassy.
Their family quickly learned ALS is an ugly disease, methodically destroying every muscle in a person’s body. There is no cure.
"Well, you go from being able to walk and do the normal things and all of a sudden you can't do them," said Nate.
One of the first things Nate realized he could no longer do was drive.
"When I gave up my license I knew I wasn't safe anymore,” he said with a grin.
Nate found a deputy and made sure no one else was around.
"I blew by him about 90 in a 40 and I waved as I went by him. Of course, the lights came on and then he pulled me over and said, 'do you know why I’m pulling you over?'"
Nate explained exactly what he was doing. That was the last time he drove a car.
"I knew it was a big deal for him to give up his license and his independence," Kassy said.
When Nate progressed to a wheelchair, he could no longer get in and out of a car even as a passenger.
Three months passed and Nate could not leave his house.
"Yeah, that's…really it's awful. I mean you're trapped in the four walls and they start - they start closing in on you really fast," said Nate.
No one understands the struggle quite like fellow ALS patients. One of them is Spokane native Steve Gleason.
“We talked a few times and he's really encouraging," said Nate.
When Team Gleason heard Nate was housebound, the organization pitched in $6,000 to help buy Nate a van specially equipped to accommodate him and his wheelchair.
Thanks to the van, a pedicure with his sister and a simple trip to the store brought Nate immeasurable joy after 90 days inside his home.
Without the help of Team Gleason and many others, Nate would still be housebound.
"I just want to say thank you,” said Kassy. “Yeah, it means a lot to us."
Now, this father-daughter duo can finally look forward to adventures big and small.
To learn more about the Gleason Initiative Foundation and how to donate, click here.