On Wednesday, May 31 against LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake will host its second-consecutive ALS Awareness night.
While a novel idea at face value, the reason behind the night hits closer to home for the Club, as Vice President of Communications John Genna was diagnosed with the incurable disease in July of last year.
Since his diagnosis Genna has been committed to raising awareness for the terminal illness, focused on how he can make it better for those who come after him.
A major portion includes raising funds for research and clinical studies.
“I want my legacy to be that I can impact the research,'' said Genna. “That one day the next person that comes after me and the doctor opens his mouth and says ‘you have ALS’ they don't have that sinking feeling that I had. That's what I want to make my legacy.”
Last year the Club participated in the ALS Association’s annual walk. Additionally, the team wore dedicated “Genna Strong” patches on their jerseys for RSL’s 2022 Decision Day victory over the Portland Timbers. The kits themselves were then auctioned off with the proceeds going to ALS research. The two initiatives combined to raise $10,000 to be donated on behalf of Genna and Real Salt Lake.
This year the Club will be selling red “Genna Strong” t-shirts with the words End ALS emblazoned on the left sleeve. Five dollars of each shirt sold will be donated to Project Main Street.
Project Main Street is the only ALS charity that provides direct financial assistance to people living with ALS, as well as being the only organization that provides unrestricted financial assistance to people living.
Fans are encouraged to donate directly to Project Main Street at www.projectmainst.org, where they can include John Genna’s name in the "+You may include a note here.” Funds will go directly to Genna and his family to help pay all medical expenses not covered by insurance.
In the meantime, make sure to pick up one of the “Genna Strong” shirts at the RSL Team Store and wear it proudly as RSL takes on LA Galaxy at America First Field.
WHAT IS ALS?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS, is a neurodegenerative disease which results in the progressive loss of motor neurons which control voluntary muscles. As the disease itself advances individuals experience total paralysis and eventual inability to speak and swallow, leading to a terminal prognosis. Because the cause of the disease is unknown there is currently no way to offer treatment or prevention.
As of right now, the disease is estimated to impact 18,000 individuals in the United States each year between the ages of 40 and 70, with men more likely to be diagnosed than women.
One of which is Real Salt Lake’s Vice President of Communications John Genna.
Genna’s disease is presented as Flail Limb Syndrome, specific to the lower motor neurons, an atypical and rare presentation of ALS which impacts on a fraction of individuals diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.