Ashley Vickers lives in Mt. Juliet with her husband and four children. She worked as a pediatric nurse and event planner until she got some bad news four years ago.
“We were completely shocked to finally learn that at the age of 32, I had Lou Gehrig’s disease, also knows as ALS,” said Vickers.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease is a terminal illness with an estimated life span of two to five years.
“I promised my family and myself from day one that I would fight and remain positive,” said Vickers. “I so desperately want to live. With the help of God, my family, friends and neighbors, I have held up to my promise.”
In the last four years, Vickers and her family have continued to look for different supplements and treatments to fight the disease, but the continuing efforts have put a financial strain on the family.
Recently, the family has found a new therapy in Brentwood that Vickers said helped her significantly.
“I’m using a hyperbaric chamber, along with spinal injections of my own stem cells,” said Vickers. “I’ve completed three weeks of treatment. I’m always willing to try anything. I must say my pain is completely gone, I am sleeping all night, and I’m back to walking a little, with help, of course. I’m never one to give false hope, but I feel it’s worth sharing.”
Of course, with all the different types of treatments, the costs can accumulate.
“We have had success in fundraising in the past,” said Vickers. “It allowed us to make major home modifications and travel to Russia twice for stem-cell transplants, which we believe has helped slow the progression down. Ultimately, I just want to see my kids grow up.”
The family now plans its biggest fundraiser yet, an event July 28 at the Estate at Cherokee Dock in Lebanon, the former home of country music singer Reba McEntire.
Vickers said her goal with the event is to not only raise funds for continued treatments, a handicap accessible van and medication costs, but also raise awareness and help others have hope.
“Despite a life changing diagnosis, it’s so important to continue living,” said Vickers. “In my home, we try to remain normal. We laugh a lot, we’ve learned to enjoy the little things and cherish every moment. Have faith in God and in yourself. You’re not in this fight alone.”
The event will be July 28 from 5-9 p.m. at the Estate at Cherokee Dock in Lebanon. VIP cocktails will be served from 4-5 p.m., and the ice bucket challenge will start at 7:45 p.m.
Eleven prominent Wilson County people will participate in the challenge, including Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan, Mt. Juliet police Chief James Hambrick, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman. Each of the participants will raise money beforehand with the goal to raise $1,000.
VIP tickets to the event are $150 and $200 if you want to bring a guest. A family ticket for up to five people is $100, an adult ticket is $40, tickets for children 4-12 are $10, and children 3 and younger are free.
Different levels of sponsorship for the event are also available, ranging from $300-$5,000 with benefits at each level.
To buy tickets, donate money, purchase sponsorships or for more information, visit helpashleysfight.com.