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Everyday Young Hero - Maeve Shaughnessy and Sydney Birchard

This article comes from Youth Service America

When Maeve Shaughnessy and Sydney Birchard (15 | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) met in fourth grade, they discovered an unexpected connection: both girls had a grandparent who passed away after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Sydney’s grandfather passed away from ALS before she was born, and Maeve felt helpless as she watched her grandmother lose her battle from the day she was diagnosed until her death. Looking for a way to take action against the disease that took the lives of their grandparents, the girls joined forces to create ALS Kids, a non-profit that supports people living with ALS by providing them with a gift and a donation to the ALS Association.

Through ALS Kids, Sydney and Maeve are determined to raise awareness for ALS and provide assistance to families when a family member is diagnosed with the disease. Many people in Sydney and Maeve’s communities have not heard about ALS and don’t realize that it has no known cause, cure, or treatment. It can also be extremely costly to care for a person living with ALS. With these goals in mind, Sydney and Maeve have hosted numerous fundraisers for ALS Kids, and every year they present a check to the ALS Association of Western Pennsylvania, with funds going directly to patient care in their area.

Together, the girls have raised over $45,000 for those living with ALS in Western Pennsylvania through their fundraising efforts. Donations from ALS Kids are used to mitigate the expenses of caring for a person living with ALS by providing caregiver hours, dietary supplements, and necessary adaptive equipment to help a person with ALS live as independently as possible. In addition, many volunteers at Sydney and Maeve’s fundraisers have become directly involved with the ALS Association chapter in Western Pennsylvania, which funds global ALS research, provides care services and programs, and works with ALS advocates around the country for state and federal policies to serve people with ALS.

Through their donations and efforts, Sydney and Maeve want people with ALS to know that they are fighting with them and that they aren’t alone. Hoping to one day see a world without ALS, these determined young women will keep fighting until there is a cure and no one else has to lose a parent, grandparent, friend, or loved one to ALS.


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