Westport, Connecticut family spearheads ALS Pepper Challenge

The Haberstroh family started the hot pepper challenge to raise money for ALS research.

On Oct. 18, Patty Haberstroh got news no person hopes to receive in her lifetime. She was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, colloquially known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neuromuscular degenerative illness that causes muscle atrophy and the eventual loss of all voluntary muscle control.

When Haberstroh, a Westport resident since 1990, told her husband, Charlie, and their four children of the diagnosis, she said they were understandably upset, but vowed do something and felt they could make a difference in fighting the disease.

“When our mom got diagnosed, it was really hard for us, but our family is not one to just let it happen,” Haberstroh’s daughter, Kim, said.

Kim Haberstroh, also a Westport resident, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago

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Learn more and donate to the #ALSPepperChallenge at classy.org/campaign/ alspepperchallenge/c161855
 

“We are a family that fights for a cure, and ALS doesn’t have a cure,” she said, adding her mother is everything to her and her three brothers.

The family wanted something similar to the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge ALS fundraiser. Patty loves peppermint patties, so the family built on the “pepper” theme and created the hot pepper challenge in which participants have to eat a hot pepper or donate $100 to ALS research.

On Christmas, five core Haberstroh family members — the clan now encompasses several spouses and five grandchildren, as well, made a video to launch the hot pepper challenge. Their faces turned red as each member ate a pepper and soon the whole family broke out into smiles and laughter.

The family chose the ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, Mass., to be the beneficiary of the challenge donations because the nonprofit biotech organization is focused 100 percent on ALS research.

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