Sunday 31 May 2015

Dean Stock's courageous battle with ALS; car wash raises $12 k for the cause

Last summer former NHL tough guy and present-day Hockey Night in Canada commentator PJ Stock took the Ice Bucket Challenge, the hugely successful worldwide fundraising initiative for ALS– a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed.   PJ subsequently challenged his brother Dean to do the same thing.

Four months later, on December 11, 2014, Dean was diagnosed with ALS. Happily married, the father of three gorgeous young children and employed at Vanguard Pharma, Dean and his brother decided to go very public on this issue. They established Team Stock via the ALS Society of Quebec to raise money for research and to assist the families of those suffering from the disease.
Dean (in blue) and all of his supporters at the car wash.
On May 30, Dean’s colleagues from Vanguard Pharma held a fundraising car wash at Pennzoil in Dollard des Ormeaux. With Allison Dorval leading the way, a number of people stepped forward and pledged before the event took place. Some colleagues actually drove in from Quebec City. When all was said and done, more than $12,000 was raised for the ALS Society of Quebec.

I got to meet Dean in person. He still remains physically fit, six months after the diagnosis. However, Dean is now experiencing difficulties with his speech. Problems communicating with others and difficulties with eating and drinking are frustrating symptoms that people with ALS experience. As the disease progresses, it weakens the muscles of the mouth and throat by causing atrophy (a decrease in the size of the muscle) or spasticity (decrease in control caused by “tightening” of the muscles). These changes affect various aspects of the speech   and swallowing.

Dean, wife Paula, their beautiful kids and the Stanley Cup.
“I am going back to work,” Dean said. “I am on disability now, but I will go back part=time. From there, who knows?”

As Dean noted, doctors told him that everybody with ALS progresses differently. “It might go to my body or localize here,” he said, pointing to his throat.”

Dean realizes how lucky he is to have a loving family and colleagues like Dorval, Normand Rousseau, Sophie Hamel and others. Dorval even brought her three teenage sons to volunteer on what was a baking hot Saturday afternoon.  “Much of our success was with our ‘pre-event’ push,” she said, “yet we washed over 50 cars and rarely stopped for a minute.  We had over 25 volunteers present and each and every one of them gave everything in honour of Dean, his family and all those affected by this devastating disease.”

I spotted folks like noted communications guru Jean-Claude Torchia at the Pennzoil location supporting the cause. PJ Stock was in Toronto working for Hockey Night in Canada.

“On behalf of team Vanguard Pharma Quebec, we would like to extend a huge thank you to the owners of Pennzoil and Mandevco  Properties, who graciously accepted us to use their location and to bombard their washroom facilities,” Dorval said. “We thank Melodie Prince of the Quebec ALS Society, who provided us direction on our event and to each and every individual who donated to this special cause.”

Vanguard Pharma  matched each  employee’s donations by 1.5.  “In their tremendous support of Dean Stock, they are also supporting all those affected by ALS in Quebec,” said Dorval. “As our president and general manager, Kevin Danylchuk, likes to say ‘thank you for keeping Vanguard Pharma on the move.’ It was a successful endeavor.” 

The Stocks grew up in Dollard des Ormeaux, where their parents still live. PJ and Dean both settled in St. Lazare with their families.

Here is my video interview with Dean Stock and Allison Dorval. It was very windy outside, so excuse some of the choppiness. 

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