Family First: ALS diagnosis confines father to wheelchair

Family First: ALS diagnosis confines father to wheelchair
Before being diagnosed with ALS, Kenneth Greenlee loved to fish and camp.
Before being diagnosed with ALS, Kenneth Greenlee loved to fish and camp.

TEXARKANA, AR (KSLA) - A Texarkana family is asking their community for help after a husband and father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of ALS or Lou Gherig's disease.

The disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is eventually lost. In the later stages of the disease, patients usually become completely paralyzed.

Kenneth Greenlee was diagnosed with the disease in May of 2013.

"He had knee surgery August 23, 2013, and after the surgery he had a speech problem," says  his wife Wendy Greenlee. "We thought maybe he had a small stroke after the surgery."

It took an entire year for the family to receive the devastating news that Kenneth Greenlee was diagnosed with ALS. Wendy Greenlee, says the disease progressed quickly.  In a matter of months, the father who loved to fish, ride four-wheelers and camp was confined to a wheel chair.

Kenneth Greenlee also lost his ability to speak clearly or raise both his hands.

"You know you make plans when you're younger to be able to do things together when you're older," Wendy Greenlee said. "A lot of the plans that we made we won't be able to do now."

The disease also brought on a slew of changes for the Greenlee family. No one can enter the home without being sanitized due to Kenneth Greenlee's ability to get sick easily. The family also has a hard time transporting Kenneth Greenlee to and from destinations due to the size of his wheelchair.

"Right now, the wheelchair doesn't fit any of the other vehicles that we have, Wendy Greenlee said. "We have to carry it behind the vehicle. When you spend that kind of money on a wheelchair, you hate to see it just ride in the back of a car with weather conditions and all."

While this disease puts a toll on the entire family, they credit their strong faith with being able to push through.

"God has put us with the right kind of people. He gets us through this every day. God and our faith."

The community has rallied around the Greenlee family to help them afford a handicapped accessible van to transport Kenneth Greenlee. During a fundraiser for Kenneth Greenlee, money was raised for a down payment, but it still isn't enough to get the vehicle Kenneth Greenlee needs.

If you want to help the Greenlee family, you can visit any Commercial National Bank and make a donation to the account "Melinda McGee to Benefit Kenneth Greenlee."

Copyright 2014 KSLA. All rights reserved.