DEAR SUN SPOTS: I have a comment and a question. I have never written to you, but I read your articles every day. Comment: We see and hear plenty about cancer: breast, lung, children’s, and a run or walk or benefit for. And now Bras Across the Bridge in Portland. Money for research is great, and I’m sure it helps.

Question: Last year, there was an ice bucket challenge for ALS which raised some $20 million. This should be for research. I realize they don’t know the cause of ALS, and there is no cure, as of now, but it would be nice to know there is research.

I would like to see a walk/run benefit or some other fundraiser for this disease. I have ALS and it is a terrible disease. Research may help someone else. Thank you and I look forward to seeing your answer. — No Name in Rumford.

ANSWER: For our readers who don’t know, ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles, as defined by The ALS Association.

The ALSA’s research program “has committed $99 million to find effective treatments and a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The ALS Association has funded significant research milestones in the fight against ALS, including:

“The groundbreaking discovery of a genetic abnormality that is, to date, the most common cause known of ALS and FTD.

“The recent exciting finding involved in familial ALS shows how two proteins work together to buttress the survival of motor neurons.

“Discovery of the ALS gene, SOD1, responsible for 20 percent of all inherited ALS cases.

“Discovery of ALS6 in 2009, a new gene responsible for about 5 percent of all inherited ALS cases.

“The first clinical trial of ISIS-SOD1, a new drug that specifically targets the SOD1 gene.”

ALSA is the organization behind the ice bucket challenge. But that is not its only fundraiser. Anyone interested in creating their own event to benefit a local chapter of the ALS Association, such as a bake sale or running a marathon, can get information from ALSA. The organization also hosts bike rides and walks. A Walk to Defeat ALS was held in Portland in September. The nearest chapter, listed on ALSA’s website, is the Northern New England Chapter, 10 Ferry Street, Suite 309, Concord, NH 03301. Phone 603-226-8855 or email [email protected]

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I would like to know about the African immigrant basket weaving cooperative. I am interested as to whether they sell their baskets locally and is it possible to visit the cooperative. — C.T. in Lewiston.

ANSWER: Sun Spots has reached out to Fatuma Hussein who is director of the United Somali Women of Maine which is located at 265 Lisbon St., Lewiston, 207-753-0061 and awaits her response.

Use the QR code to go to Sun Spots online for additional information and links. This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can be emailed to [email protected], tweeted @SJ_SunSpots or posted on the Sun Spots facebook page at This column can also be read online at We’ve joined Pinterest at

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