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Skydive Mower Robin Mower with her tandem instructor Dan Pushies.
Robin Mower with her tandem instructor Dan Pushies.
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Published: Wednesday, 10/24/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Toledo woman continues to raise awareness for ALS

BY ROSE RUSSELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Toledo woman who has taken an unusual stride to raise awareness about ALS is on another mission to see that others understand her disease — a cross-country trip in a recreational vehicle that could total 12,000 miles by the time she and her husband return home.

Last year, Robin Hanna-Mower skydived to bring attention to Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (previously known as Lou Gehrig's disease), which she was diagnosed with in 2009. This year, she and her husband, John Mower, are traveling to tell others about the disease with the hope that the attention will result in a cure.

On this adventure, they have joined others on walks to spread the word in St. Cloud, Minn., Seattle, and Monterey, Calif. They expect to take more walks in San Antonio, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La.

Among the other highlights of their travel is a much-anticipated visit to New Orleans where they hope to see NFL player Steve Gleason. The former New Orleans Saint has ALS and has started a foundation. The couple said by telephone early this week during a lunch break in Carlsbad, N.M., that they plan to visit the ALS national office in Washington.

So far, the Mowers — who have a blended family of four children and three grandchildren — have put more than 5,000 miles on the RV.

"We decided to call it ‘Across America for ALS' because that's what it says on the back of our RV," Mr. Mower said.

A counselor at Central Catholic High School, Mr. Mower is taking time to be with his wife. Ms. Hanna-Mower was in technical support for an insurance firm and was a Special Olympics powerlifing coach before she became ill.

While some observers are startled to see their RV and its ALS messages, others who are familiar with it show support.

"People who drive by rubber necking, honk, give fist pumps, and take pictures of our RV," he said.

Ms. Hanna-Mower uses a motorized wheelchair, which didn't stop her last year from leaping from an airplane with an instructor at Skydive Tecumseh in Tecumseh, Mich.

She finds creative ways to give information about ALS, which proves Mr. Mower's point that she has taken this illness and has run with it. During this trip, the couple have handed out cards that contain information about ALS. She obtained 500 cards in July and has a little more than 50 left.

"The most important part about this journey is that I refuse to give up. I am living. I am not dying," she said. "I feel as though the disease is a blessing. It has allowed me to slow down and take a look at what we take for granted."

Contact Rose Russell at rrussell@theblade.com or 419-724-6178.



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