You never know when life is going to throw you a curve ball.
For Sharon Siegel-Cohen, one of the executive producers on The Morning Show at Channel 4, it started as something quite innocuous.
“I tripped when we were on a family vacation and had trouble with my ankle,” Siegel-Cohen said. "The problem persisted for months and neither I, nor my doctors, could figure out what was wrong."
It took doctors some time, but they eventually figured out what was going on. Siegel-Cohen has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS -- sometimes known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles that tends to strike people between the ages of 40 and 70.
About 5,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year -- that's more than 13 new cases a day. It's estimated there are more than 20,000 Americans living with it at any given time.
"I was in denial at first," Siegel-Cohen said. “But then I decided to use my voice and fight this disease and do what I can to help find a cure.”
Since her diagnosis, raising awareness about ALS has become Siegel-Cohen's mission, and her family on The Morning Show is dedicated to helping her. Now, WJXT-TV would like you to join in on that mission.
On Tuesday night, Bruce, Melanie, Crystal, Richard, Vic and Elizabeth from Channel 4 will be working as celebrity servers at Brucci's Pizza near Beach Boulevard and Hodges, and Siegel-Cohen will be there, too.
All the money the Channel 4 team raises through tips between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. will be donated to the local ALS Society.
The Florida Times-Union, also known as jacksonville.com, also recently featured Siegel-Cohen in a column by Mike Clark.
Clark described how he got to know Siegel-Cohen in 1980, as he reviewed movies for Channel 4.
"Sharon was my producer and helped me adjust to the demands of reading a teleprompter," Clark said. "Saying something meaningful in 90 seconds was a good writing lesson. Trying to appear both authoritative and relaxed was quite a challenge. Sharon, a first-rate talent, took good care. We even did a few standups outside the studio."
Clark also drew attention to Jacksonville’s Walk for A Cure, which will take place Saturday, March 30, at Tinseltown. You can sign up and contribute here.
"Sharon’s Songbirds" is the name of her group. Siegel-Cohen also will be honored May 4, as she's set to receive a Courage Award at a gala to benefit Augie’s Quest, a reference to Augie Nieto, co-founder and CEO of Life Fitness. Augie’s Quest is a nonprofit dedicated to helping find a treatment and cure for ALS.