Local youth’s PALS4PALS helps support those with ALS

PALS4PALS is essentially pen pals for ‘Persons with ALS’— more volunteers wanted

Cole Spector
(Gerardy Photography)

About 13 years ago, Carmel Valley resident Cole Spector, 16, first learned about ALS, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or more commonly, Lou Gehrig’s disease, when his aunt and godmother was diagnosed with this disease. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Currently there is no cure, and the life expectancy of ALS patients is tragically short (typically two-five years).

Ever since his aunt’s diagnosis, Cole has participated, and sometimes originated, events to raise awareness and funds for ALS research and caregiving. About five years ago, Cole brought SLAM ALS to San Diego, which was a social media campaign in which participants recorded themselves slamming objects (and, metaphorically, ALS) and sought to continue raising awareness following the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Cole also regularly volunteers for the ALS Association, which is a nonprofit organization with the mission of finding a cure for and improving living with ALS.


Most recently, Cole started PALS4PALS. “PALS” is an acronym for Persons with ALS. PALS4PALS is essentially pen pals for PALS. Through PALS4PALS, volunteers work through the ALS Association to write notes to PALS on various occasions (for example, their birthdays or holidays) or just to let them know someone is thinking of them. There is no expectation for PALS to write back. It’s a very simple idea, but, according to Steve Becvar, the executive director of the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter, the impact is huge.

“PALS often feel isolated by their condition, and getting a letter from time to time on a special occasion is a reminder that others care about them and finding a cure for this terrible disease. We’ve already received heartwarming feedback from our ALS community on the PALS4PALS initiative. Please consider joining Cole’s efforts to support this wonderful program.”

Cole is trying to get more people to be a part of PALS4PALS. If anyone is interested in being a part of PALS4PALS, email Cole at cole@pals4pals.com