Ismail was honored as one of two recipients of the 2017 Walk Hero Award for the 14th annual Ventura/Santa Barbara County Walk to Defeat ALS on Sunday, October 29, at Plaza Park in Ventura, CA. He was presented with a beautiful engraved crystal award. Jessica Partida, regional director of community outreach for the ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter, explains that as award co-honoree, Ismail is celebrated for his “extraordinary determination” and efforts in the areas of advocacy, fundraising, and public awareness while living with ALS.
“This award does not belong to me alone,” Ismail told October 29 walk participants in a speech he wrote prior to the event by blinking out words one letter at a time to Cheryl, who read them to the crowd. “It belongs to all those who are afflicted with this horrible, incurable disease, to all of the family caregivers and dedicated nurses who give so much of themselves, to all of the doctors and other health care professionals who give us excellent medical care, to the researchers who continue to search for treatments and a cure, and to all of our friends and relatives who love and support us and can help spread the word of this terrible disease that kills without mercy.”
“The Golden West Chapter has been a big help to me over the years,” Ismail continued in his speech. “It has provided Cheryl and me with decades of excellent care management services, free of charge. The Chapter’s equipment loan pool has loaned me essential medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and communication devices, for as long as I needed them—again at no charge to me.
“I thank the ALS Association for this wonderful honor and for the opportunity to share my story about living with ALS for over 30 years. Spelling out my chapters one letter at a time with eye blink, I co-wrote a book with my wife Cheryl called One Blink at a Time. Our book illustrates how we have been living happy and productive lives for 30 years despite the challenges of ALS.
“People ask me how I’ve survived ALS for thirty years and still feel good and enjoy life. They want to know how I can continue to wake up every morning, totally paralyzed and unable to talk or to eat, and still want to go on after so many years. The answer is simple. I have a lot to live for.
“ALS may have stolen my ability to move, speak, eat, even to breathe on my own, but it has not taken away my determination to live a happy and productive life and to share my story one blink at a time. I believe my story will give others with ALS encouragement and hope.
“I thank the chapter for all it has done, and continues to do, to make my life and so many other people’s lives better. I will continue to celebrate life and live every day to the fullest.”
Ismail and Cheryl have been active in the Golden West Chapter’s Walk to Defeat ALS events since 2005. In recognition of his efforts, Ismail has also received, along with Cheryl, the “Superheroes of the Year Award” at the Los Angeles County Walk to Defeat ALS, as well as the Les Turner “ALS March of Faces-Vice President’s Award” for his outstanding achievements in advocacy and public awareness of ALS.
The Ventura County Star newspaper published in its October 27 issue an excellent article about Ismail and his Walk Hero Award written by Alicia Doyle, with photos and video by photographer Chuck Kirman. The newspaper also posted the article, photos, and video on its website. They can be accessed at the following links: