To show support for one of their own, members of the 56th Security Forces Squadron participated in the Scottsdale “Walk to Defeat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,” a fundraiser for those battling Lou Gehrig’s disease Saturday.
The Thunderbolts walked in honor of retired 56th Security Forces Squadron Master Sgt. Evelyn Proctor, who was medically retired after she was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to Staff Sgt. Jessica Keller, 56th SFS Military Working Dog handler.
Proctor’s story began May 10, 2010, at a march for police week, when she started to lose movement in her upper and lower extremities. She said at that time she didn’t know she had ALS and was referred to a neurologist. One year later in June 2011, she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The disease causes damage to the nerves, muscles and affects the nerve cells in the brain. Currently, there isn’t a cure for it, she said.
For Proctor, life changed drastically within a short period of time.
“It’s hard for me since I used to be active, and I was at the peak of my career,” Proctor said. “This disease has changed my perspective on life and how I live my life.”
Today, she uses a cane to walk and sometimes needs to use a wheelchair.
“My husband and family provide me with 24-hour care,” she said. “My lifestyle has changed completely because I can’t cook or care for myself, but God has given me the strength to wake up every morning and continue my fight with this disease.”
Proctor lives each day not knowing what the future holds for her health, but because of her career as an Airman she is considered family by many at Luke.
“She has been a true mentor and friend to the members of the 56th Fighter Wing since her arrival to Luke in September 2001 and she is like a sister to me,” said Jerold Haupt, 56th SFS chief of standardized evaluations.
Known for her giving heart while on active-duty, Proctor also took on an active role in Operation Thunderbox as a coordinator for five years.
“She took the lead on building Operation Thunderbox and helped ensure that deployed Thunderbolts receive care packages from home,” Haupt said.
Through Proctor’s generosity and willingness to give to others, she’s inspired 56th SFS personnel to give back by raising money for the ALS foundation, which funds patient care and supports research for those with ALS.
“We did this fundraiser and walk in support of this amazing woman,” Keller said. “Additionally, we also did this in order to show community awareness and moral support for those battling ALS.”
As part of the fundraising, the 56th SFS wore rucksacks on the 3-mile walk in Scottsdale to show the strength Proctor has shown them, Keller said.
“We had to smoke ourselves on the ruck or else we knew she would probably have us training all day,” Keller said.
Even through her recent tribulations, Proctor still finds a way to be thankful for the people in her life.
“I have two families, the family I was born into and my military family,” Proctor said. “There are no words that can express how much this walk meant to me. I am so grateful for their support and owe each and every one of them. They make me want to continue the fight and not give up.”