Less than three weeks after a Hook cover story, "She's Dying: His Drug Could Save Her," calls and emails from around the nation have begun pouring in to the office of UVA neurologist James Bennett.
Bennett wants to continue his intriguing clinical trial for a drug to treat ALS, a fatal malady commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Although the first phase of the study ended in November, Bennett recently won "conditional approval" from UVA to move forward. But he needs about $200,000– and quickly.
"What the heck," writes Noor Q. Haq, a 60-year-old Saratoga, California resident who read the Hook's February 24 cover story online. "Get me in touch with Dr. James Bennett," writes Haq, diagnosed with ALS last year, "and I will try to raise this money through a fundraiser."
Other ALS sufferers and their families are trying to raise money in Indiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, as well as here in Virginia. Bennett says he's heard from people as far away as Germany.
"I now have a collection of the most heartbreaking emails any individual has ever read," says Bennett. On the other hand, he says, "It's heartwarming that people who are complete strangers have offered to raise money for this."
Bennett says he's received several small donations, but still needs to raise most of the $200,000 to pay for enough of the drug to treat 40 patients for six months and to hire a fulltime study coordinator.
Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 800394, Charlottesville, VA 22908. Checks should be made out to University of Virginia: Dr. Bennett Research.
The Hook's February 24 cover story.