Late ALS patient's documentary raises awareness

May 7, 2009 (CHICAGO) One of them was a Chicago filmmaker who chronicled his fight against ALS in an award-winning film. Ben Byer's documentary Indestructible was created to increase awareness of the challenges faced by living with ALS.

Ben Byer was leading a happy and successful life when at the age of 31 he was diagnosed with ALS.

His sister Rebeccah Rush remembers when it happened.

"It was a shock," Rush said. "It was something that we didn't know anything about, we all had some idea that Ben was going to get through thing and fight this and survive."

The first symptom of ALS showed up in his hand.

"He was a house painter as a day job, he was a writer and an actor but needed a day job, so he was a house painter. He couldn't hold a brush anymore," said Rush.

When people are diagnosed with devastating disabilities, like ALS, it also affects family members.

"It has given me such a huge amount of perspective and the ability to really live my life with intention and know that I'm susceptible to anything as well," Rush said.

And while Indestructible won awards at film festivals, Ben's ability to share his struggles is making a difference.

"He really was indestructible, and even though now he's dead, but you know, what he left behind is amazing and it's affected people in so many ways all over the world," said Rush.

Ben died July 3, 2008. The Chicago Muscular Dystrophy Association recently created The Ben Byer ALS Awareness Award which is to be presented yearly to individuals making significant contribution towards the fight against ALS.

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