Local News

‘Die Laughing with Cathy Speck': an ALS musical one-woman show

By From page A1 | August 16, 2013

For many years, Cathy Speck was known for her singing and music, and then ALS spun her life in a different direction. Craig Wells/Courtesy photo

For many years, Cathy Speck was known for her singing and music, and then ALS spun her life in a different direction. Craig Wells/Courtesy photo

Laugh, cry, buy tickets and help raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as well as funds for the ALS Therapy Development Institute at the one-woman musical show “Die Laughing with Cathy Speck.”

The event takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, at Trish and Kim Timothy’s, 37687 County Road 18 in rural Woodland.
Proceeds will help support ALS TDI, an independent research center with a singular focus: developing effective therapies that slow and stop the progression of ALS.

“If you’re not laughing yet,” Speck said, “Don’t worry, you will. Underpants! Are ya laughing yet? If not, this might not be the best fit for you. I use free-ranging gallows humor and music to stay joyful and sane.”

Speck — the star of the show, which also features six other ALS advocates — was diagnosed with genetic ALS, a fatal neurodegenerative disease, in 2009. Genetic ALS is extremely rare and was carried by her mother, Dorothy.

Some members of the Speck family have the SOD1 genetic mutation, which means all of Dorothy’s children and grandchildren have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutation. The children of Dorothy’s siblings also may be at risk if the parents carry the mutation.

ALS already has taken the lives of four members of Cathy’s immediate family.

ALS affects an estimated 350,000 people worldwide, including children and adults. Most patients die within two to five years after diagnosis.

With ALS, people progressively lose muscle strength until they become paralyzed and can no longer move, speak, swallow and breathe. About 90 percent die from respiratory failure. There is no cure.

Even before ALS started ravaging the Speck family, Cathy’s friends and acquaintances told her to write a book about her life — a life filled with love, compassion, devastation, resiliency and plenty of humor and singing.

“You will laugh, cry, clap, laugh some more, and before you can say ‘amyotrophic lateral sclerosis’ you’ll discover that not only did you learn about ALS, but you might also feel more comfortable talking about illness, dying, death, grieving and healing,” Cathy said. “It ain’t all bad — I guarantee it. This multi-media show will be life-changing for many of you.”

“Die Laughing with Cathy Speck” is rated PG for adult topics, including suicide, death and dying, and gallows humor. Don’t forget to bring cash/checks to donate for a grilled burger/veggie bar, chips and salsa, wine, beer, sparkling, water, soda, cookies, popcorn and snow cones.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or folding chairs. Seating is limited, so advance reservations are recommended.

Casual attire is suggested, and parking is free. Child care will not be provided. The suggested donation online and at the door is $20, but higher amounts are greatly appreciated.

To make reservations for the event, or to make a donation, go to: http://community.als.net/dielaughing, and click on the “Donate” box. For more information, call Trish Timothy at 530-662-7433.

Enterprise staff

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