'Walk to Defeat ALS' with Dean Devaney

Walk to Defeat ALS with Dean Devaney

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neuromuscular disease that impacts the lives of countless individuals across the globe. Over time, it degenerates the body’s ability to move, speak, swallow, and even breathe. The ALS Association estimates that around 5000 people are diagnosed with this condition each year in the United States alone. In 2018, ALS impacted the Radford family when Professor of Photography, Andrew Ross, stepped down from his position with the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). His ALS diagnosis progressed to the point that he felt it best to return to Chapel Hill to be closer to family and a strong medical support network.

CVPA Dean Margaret Devaney recalls when Professor Ross met with her to tell her that he was stepping down from his post due to medical necessity. Andrew was joined by his mother and father to break the news to the dean. “It was a highly emotional gathering which resulted in a bond that has continued to strengthen,” said Devaney.

Professor Ross and his family have remained close to the college, with faculty, staff and administrators making regular trips to visit Andrew at his residence in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. And while he no longer teaches classes at Radford, Ross and his family have left a lasting impact, having donated substantial gifts that will support promising photography students, as well as contributing to the college’s ability to bring guest artists to campus. In support of those goals, the family established three named endowments:

  • The Andrew W. Ross Photography Program Enrichment Fund
  • Andrew W. Ross Visiting Artist Legacy Fund
  • Andrew W. Ross Photography Scholarship

During one recent visit to his home in Chapel Hill, Ross asked Dean Devaney if she would consider being a team captain for the upcoming “Walk to Defeat ALS” event in Roanoke, Virginia. Honored by the request, she quickly accepted.

Devaney says that she did not know much about the illness prior to knowing Ross.  “As I’ve grown closer to Andrew and his family, I’ve had an opportunity to see how devastating this disease can be. I want to do everything that I can to raise public awareness of ALS, and to help find a cure. The Walk to Defeat ALS is an excellent way to be proactive in the fight against this disease, and I’m proud to be assembling ‘Team Radford’ in support of this cause,” said Devaney. She hopes to get as many people as possible to contribute to show how much Ross means to his Radford family.

The Walk to Defeat ALS is Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Hollins University. Proceeds from the event will be used to support research, care services, and advocacy to enact public policies that improve the lives of those living with ALS. Anyone interested in supporting “Team Radford” can sign up or donate here.

Aug 21, 2019
Jason S. Hutchens, Ed.D.