Every year we donate a part of the proceeds from the Bridal Inspirations Wedding Expo to a charity.
Unfortunately this year, it has become much more personal. We found out our UPS driver Les has been diagnosed with ALS, which many people know as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He’s been delivering to us for years and in that time we have gotten to know him and his family as well! In fact, he and his daughter actually danced in the fashion show at our Wedding Expo in 2009, and his daughter even chose her wedding dress from Alicia’s Bridal.
One day, he showed up with a delivery, and I noticed he was slurring his words. I asked him about it and I don’t think he had noticed at this point or was trying not to. I told him he needed to see a doctor right away! Another person on his route had noticed the same thing. He did see a doctor in Bellingham but they couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. They sent him to a specialist in Seattle where he was diagnosed with Bulbar Palsy, which is a precursor to ALS.
He found all of this out only a few months ago and he’s had to retire from work already and be on disability. It’s progressing rather rapidly, and at this point his tongue is weakening which affects his speech quite a bit. The disease affects the nerves and muscles in your body, so in this case it becomes increasingly difficult to use your tongue to form your words. This disease affects things we take for granted. At this point, he is looking into using some voice recognition apps to help him communicate in the future.
Any time you notice a change in your health you should have it checked out! Instead of ignoring it or dismissing it, you should see a doctor. Often times when you can catch a disease right away you can stop its progression. For instance, if you have a stroke and can get to a hospital within 3 hours you can get the medication that can reverse the symptoms of a stroke.
Les did the best thing he could do by getting a diagnosis, but unfortunately, there’s no cure for this disease. Hopefully some of medications can ease the symptoms. I just want to encourage everyone to pay attention to their health. If there’s something different going on find out about it. Sometimes we get so busy with our lives we ignore problems, and that’s not good.
We will be donating part of the proceeds from this year’s Bridal Inspirations Wedding Expo to the ALS Association and to his family to help cover some of his medical bills.
We will be accepting donations through the Paypal donation button above and by check. Please make checks payable to Les Kooistra Benefit Account.
Les is much more than a delivery guy—he is part of our family. He worked with us for years, and whenever he walked through the door he was in a good mood. He knew he was delivering important packages. He respected that the wedding dresses were a big deal to all of our brides out there. When he had an overnight delivery, he always made sure he got here early. If we called his cell phone, he was always willing come back and pick something up because he knew it was important. Not many UPS drivers give out their cell phone numbers.
We depended on him for what we do. Things need to be delivered in a timely fashion, and UPS was integral. He made sure he got to us on time, got things out on time, and ultimately he made our brides happy. It was wonderful!
We’re trying to break in our new UPS guy right now, and he’s told us “Les said I need to give you my cell phone number!” So Les is still taking care of us.
Even the people who helped us setup the bank account at People’s Bank for this donation drive were excited to help in any way since Les was their driver too! Les is just the kind of guy people love, and they want to do anything they can for him.
I want to do something for more than just him, for others like him, for everyone with serious illnesses—I want to let everyone know there are people who need help. You don’t have to donate to ALS.
The simple fact of the matter is that every little bit helps, whether you donate to Breast Cancer or any cause. You don’t have to give a huge amount to have an impact.