Abby Hammes has a lot on her plate. During the normal work-week Abby is busy as a paralegal at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys, a law firm in Fargo. Abby works closely with family lawyer Tracy Lyson, provides administrative support in civil and commercial litigation actions for attorney Sean Foss, and assists attorney Stephen Welle with estate planning and probate matters. But that’s not really the most important job in her life.
Abby’s mom Renee was diagnosed 18 months ago with Lou Gehrig ’s disease, also known as ALS. Abby is her primary caregiver. Abby and her mom have been and continue to be extremely involved in efforts to put the spotlight on ALS, doing everything they can to help increase attention to research and fund support for other families in similar situations.
This past May found Abby and her mom in Washington, DC meeting with North Dakota Congressional representatives, telling their stories and advocating for support of specific policy initiatives. One of the issues they are working hard on is to waive the five-month waiting period for Social Security Disability benefits for people with ALS. In addition Abby and Renee have been trying to focus attention on the enactment of the Dormant Therapies Act which would provide pharmaceutical companies with a greater incentive to develop drugs for the treatment of ALS. They are also working to help ensure access to customized complex rehab technologies by addressing how Medicare covers those items.
On August 27 the Fargo-Moorhead Walk to Defeat ALS took place to help raise funds for support. “The 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge, and walks like this one, have made a significant impact on research about this disease and the resources available to families like my mom and I,” said Abby. She continued “Without the ALS Association’s help and support providing loans for medical equipment, hosting community support groups and funding clinical appointments where my mom can see an entire team of doctors that collaborate together, we would be completely lost.”
Abby is a hard worker, day and night. She recently wrote a note to the firm partners: “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do to take care of my mom without the support and flexibility of all the staff and partners at the firm. The care that is shown for me and my family here is truly invaluable.”