Proclamation 6426—National Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Awareness Month, 1992
By the President of the United States of America
Just over 50 years ago, Americans watched in helpless anguish as one of our Nation's most beloved sports heroes died slowly and painfully of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an insidious, progressive disease that gradually destroys the body's nerves and muscles. Although ALS was discovered as early as 1869, the death of baseball legend Lou Gehrig was the first to generate widespread public awareness of this fatal ailment. To this day, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is often referred to simply as "Lou Gehrig's disease."
Like the acclaimed "Iron Horse," whose outstanding career as a first baseman was cut short before the age of 37, most ALS su;fferers initially experience weakness in the hands or legs as muscles waste away. Most people with the disease are likewise struck in the prime of life. ALS eventually affects the muscles that control vital functions such as respiration and swallowing, usually resulting in death within 2 to 5 years. ALS does not, however, affect the mind -- its victims remain alert and mentally unimpaired.
Both an identifiable cause and a cure for ALS remain elusive. Currently, care is aimed at assisting people with ALS through the use of wheelchairs, respirators, and feeding tubes, particularly among those who outlive the average life expectancy. Because at least 5,000 people will be diagnosed with ALS this year, and because more than 300,000 people who are alive today will eventually die from the disease, rigorous scientific research on ALS continues. Scientists supported by the Federal Government's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) are searching for clues to the cause of ALS, as well as for more effective ways of treating the disease. Researchers hope to discover one day a means of curing or preventing ALS altogether.
Recent progress has been heartening: NINDS-supported investigators recently discovered that a gene responsible for a familial form of ALS lies somewhere on chromosome 21; still other researchers are studying chemicals known as nerve growth factors in order to learn more about the role that they play in this complex disease.
A number of private, voluntary health agencies across the country join the NINDS in supporting ALS research. In addition to promoting the work of physicians and scientists who are studying the disease, these organizations also provide a variety of services to ALS patients and their families. On this occasion, we gratefully salute all those men and women who are working to overcome ALS, and we applaud the courage and cooperation of those patients who are coping with this mysterious and painful disease.
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 174, has designated May 1992 as "National Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Awareness Month" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1992 as National Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Awareness Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.
George Bush, Proclamation 6426—National Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Awareness Month, 1992 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/268539