By CLAIR MAYS | Arkadelphia Public Schools
The month of May is ALS Awareness Month. On May 11, 2023, 55 members of Arkadelphia High School and Goza Middle School FBLA Chapters participated in their inaugural ALS Bowl-a-Thon. FBLA members and advisers worked to gather pledges along with t-shirt sponsorships allowing them to make a $7,500 donation to Team Gleason.
Team Gleason aims to provide individuals with ALS with leading-edge technology, equipment and services to create a global conversation about ALS, and to raise public awareness towards ALS by providing and documenting extraordinary life adventures for individuals with muscular diseases or injuries. Learn more about Team Gleason at teamgleason.org.
This project was a work of the heart for AHS FBLA adviser Ashley Wesley. Her mother, Patricia Keener, was diagnosed with ALS in July 2020. Ashley experienced firsthand the journey families make with their loved ones when diagnosed with ALS. Caring for Patricia was a family affair as her father, Ronnie Keener, lovingly became the full-time caregiver for Patricia after retiring in December of 2021 from his career. Mrs. Keener passed away on November 2, 2022.
Now, the Keener-Wesley family is raising awareness for ALS and doing their part to fundraise for those organizations that provide support to ALS patients and their families. Mrs. Wesley’s son, Peyton, who is in eighth grade at Goza Middle School and an FBLA member, raised $1,555 in pledges and participated in the Bowl-a-thon. In the month of May, Mrs. Wesley published an awareness campaign through Arkadelphia High School FBLA media accounts.
During the ALS fundraising project, Arkadelphia students and staff came forward to share with Mrs. Wesley to share how their own families have been affected by ALS. This bowl-a-thon has brought families opportunities to learn about organizations such as Team Gleason. It has also given students the opportunity to honor their loved ones and impact future ALS treatment and conversations.
In the 2022-23 school year, Arkadelphia FBLA has donated a total of $11,930 to charities. Kedriel Johnson also serves as an Arkadelphia High School FBLA Adviser along with Mrs. Wesley. Ms. LaKesha Berry is the Goza Middle School FBLA Adviser.