Dr. Thomas F. Tonniges Fund for Advancement of ALS Clinical Care and Research

To my many old and new friends and to friends I have not yet met:

For many of you who know me, I am the guy who is continuously asking for money. Whether it is for a new IMAX theater, a political candidate or a great children’s organization, I have only asked for you to support things that I fully believe in. I am now asking for your help again. This is not necessarily for me, but much more for our children and their children. I have ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a fatal disease that cuts all our lives far too short.

I have a great life. I could have not asked for anything different. I, like Lou Gehrig, “am the luckiest guy in the world.” But when I talk to a 28 year-old with ALS who has young children, I say we have to double our efforts to rid this world of one of the most horrible diseases. With a huge group effort, we did it with polio. I see no reason why the 5,000 Americans who are diagnosed with ALS every year should not anticipate a brighter future than we do today.

When I went to medical school, my classmates and I took the Hippocratic Oath:

I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity.
I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity.
My colleagues will be life brothers and sisters.

Our family lived in Hastings for 18 years. I took care of a family that had two boys. As what tends to happen, these boys grew into bright young men. I had heard that their mother had ALS and was in the hospital. I stopped in her room to see her. What I first saw was her eyes telling me that she understood everything I said. Second was that she had no control over her body. Vicky, and that visit, had a profound impact on me. I told her that I would do everything possible to make sure her boys got the best care possible.

So, what can I do? I can now “serve humanity” one last time by advocating, educating and do my part to someday make ALS a disease of the past. Currently there is hope. As you read this, clinical trials are going on with the possible use of stem cells to regenerate what is lost because of ALS.

When I went to medical school in the 70’s (getting old!), we had a lecture or two that dealt with all the neurodegenerative conditions. We were left with the idea that we would probably never see a person with one of these illnesses. I personally know four people with ALS. I have also met several people whose parent, aunt or uncle or close friend has died from ALS. It is not a rare condition.

This effort will help fund (but is not limited to):

  • Services for families that need them, but have no source of payment
  • A place to collaborate services and research activities across the University of Nebraska’s different campuses
  • A clinic research coordinator
  • Support for the only nationally certified clinic in Nebraska at UNMC
  • Support special projects in Nebraska that will further advance the understanding, treatment and cure for ALS

Please help the ALS Association and the University of Nebraska Foundation improve care, assist in the care for families in need and develop a research agenda for “care, treatment and cure” for this horrific disease.

Consider a donation to kick-start Nebraska’s ALS efforts…your donation will have a profound impact on generations to come.

Thomas F. Tonniges, MD

Dr. Tonniges and Family
Randy Cadonau and family

Honoring Dr. Tonniges

Karen Michael