Seth's sister, Brittany Alden, and Connie Williams packing sack lunches to ship out Friday, Oct. 23 at the Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church.

Sack Lunches for Seth a huge success

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon native Seth Poling has been waging an uphill battle with a fatal motor neuron disease, ALS, but sometimes, it’s good to know he’s not fighting alone.

That was apparent last week when, Poling’s mom, Mary Alice, coordinated a hugely popular Sack Lunches for Seth fundraiser that sold over 660 sack lunches to assist in covering the cost of Seth’s medical expenses. The benefit was a full-time enterprise operating out of Mt. Hermon United Methodist church and involved more than 30 volunteers over the span of several days.

Businesses and organizations in Upshur and surrounding counties rallied around Poling, who now lives with his wife, Erika, and two sons, Bayler and Liam, in Morgantown. Preparations had been in the works for week – even months – before sack lunches were distributed to businesses and professional offices across Upshur County. A slew of sack lunches even made the trip to downtown Elkins, where they were delivered at the Randolph County Courthouse and other professional office buildings.

In 2017, Seth was diagnosed with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, although he’d been experiencing symptoms for several years prior.

The Oct. 21-23 fundraiser sold turkey, ham and homemade pimento cheese sandwiches – complete with a fresh-baked cookie – to raise money to provide Seth’s family aid with ongoing medical expenses associated with ALS.

Passersby who saw the sack lunch sign were also welcome to stop up for a bite to eat Friday afternoon. Seth’s team of 30 volunteers stayed until they ran out of food around 1 p.m.

As she hurriedly packaged freshly made sandwiches Friday, Oct. 23, Mary Alice Poling explained Seth and her daughter-in-law Erika don’t receive funding for many of the aids Seth utilizes to assist him in daily life.

“This is all going for his medical expenses, for whatever they need to cover,” Mary Alice said. “He doesn’t get money for aids, so everything they need to purchase for him, they pretty much have to pay for themselves.”

Mary Alice said Seth is in a wheelchair full-time now and has difficulty moving his arms and speaking, but his sense of humor and ability to plan upcoming events remain intact.

Kimberly Cabrera and Lauren Lamb help out at last week’s Sack Lunches for Seth fundraiser at Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church.

“He has his sense of humor, and he can plan – he really likes to plan,” she said, “and he’s super excited about this benefit and all the people who love and care for him.”

Mary Alice is contemplating coordinating another similar sack lunch fundraiser in the spring and perhaps a rum cake sale sooner, so stay tuned.

The son of Mary Alice and Holt Poling of Buckhannon and brother of Brittany Alden, Seth is a 2005 graduate of Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

If you missed the sack lunch, here are several other ways you can help by educating yourself about ALS and/or supporting efforts to provide resource to ALS patients:

  • Read about ALS and how you can support ALS patients at I Am ALS
  • Get involved with Team Gleason, a nonprofit co-founded by former NFL football player Steve Gleason to empower people diagnosed with ALS to live purposeful lives
  • Write your state legislators to express support for H.R. 7071, the Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act; H.R. 1407, the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act of 2019; and H.R. 7269, the Promising Pathway Act

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