Comic's caregivers raise money for ALS

July 23, 2010 6:51:27 PM PDT
There is a follow-up to an emotional story ABC7 first brought you earlier this year about a Bay Area performer battling Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Two friends are now hoping to turn her legacy into funding for care and research.

Jennifer Brecheisen and Alexa Martinez are training for a bike ride that will take them a least 100 miles and every push of the pedals is inspired by the memory of a friend.

"A superior amazing woman was in the most pain I ever saw. If she could do it, I could do anything. I could ride three hundred miles," says cyclist Alexa Martinez.

The two are raising money to fight ALS in honor of Berkeley singer and comic Carla Zilbersmith.

"Carla never shied away from anything and this is pretty big thing riding 100 miles, but ALS is harder than riding 100 miles. We want to do it in honor of her," says cyclist Jennifer Brecheisen.

Zilbersmith first revealed her diagnosis to a live audience in 2008.

"I've just been diagnosed with Loug Gehrig's disease, which really sucks because I hate baseball," said Zilbersmith in 2008.

We caught up with Zilbersmith earlier this year, when she was launching an ALS fund raising effort of her own, convincing fellow LAS patients to pose for this movie-themed calendar.

"I want money for research lots and lots of money," said Zilbersmith in January.

Zilbersmith lost her battle with ALS in May.

That's when Martinez and Brecheisen, who had been her caregivers, decided to create Team Carla. Along with two friends, they'll attempt to complete the Ride To Defeat ALS, which winds through the Napa Valley in September. It's the largest fundraiser of its kind in Northern California and Team Carla already has pledges of several thousand dollars.

"We said $10,000 first, but now I'm thinking 25,000," says Martinez.

They've created a website to track their progress, as they continue to train, hoping to raise both their stamina and money to fight ALS.

This story was written and produced by Ken Miguel


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