Taking a Swing at Ataxia

Andy learns about an oft-overlooked set of neurological disorders—with yet another baseball connection.

With so many worthy causes in the community, it’s impossible to know (and/or contribute) to all of them. But Plymouth is home to the national foundation of a disease that affects 150,000 people in the United States.

The National Ataxia Foundation works to bring awareness to this rare neurological disorder that deteriorate the cerebellum, brain stem and spinal cord regions controlling coordination, balance and speech.

While Lou Gehrig’s disease is well-known, Twins star Bob Allison’s disease is not.

Gehrig was a star for the New York Yankees; Allison a good player for the Minnesota Twins in the 1960s. Gehrig got ALS during his career and received lots of attention; Allison developed ataxia after his playing days with a fraction of the fanfare.

Still, ataxia robbed Allison of his ability to walk, talk and even swallow, and contributed to his death at age 60. His son (and Plymouth resident) Mark is now the board chairman of the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center at the University of Minnesota.

Read about the foundation and the research center through the personal stories of Bob Allison and others affected by the disease in the July issue of Plymouth Magazine (available July 1 at plymouthmag.com)

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