Joel Sanchez

Joel Sanchez with daughter Anissa.

Courtesy photo

At age 29, Joel Sanchez is fighting the fight of his life as he struggles with ALS.

Diagnosed in June 2012, Sanchez has lost almost all use of his hands and arms and his legs are too weak to stand without aid. He is slowly losing the ability to speak.

Often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. Nerve cells (neurons) waste away or die, and can no longer send messages to muscles. This eventually leads to muscle weakening, twitching, and an inability to move the arms, legs, and body. Over time, people with ALS progressively lose the ability to function and care for themselves. The condition slowly gets worse and is fatal. Death often occurs within two to five years of diagnosis.

Sanchez’s 7-year-old daughter Anissa continues to encourage her father daily. Recently, she completed the Tucson Muscle Walk with her mother, Crystal Martinez, in honor of her father.

On May 25, Desert Son Community Church, located at 5250 W. Cortaro Farms Road in Marana, is hosting a car show fundraiser to raise money for a modified van with a wheelchair lift and to pay for the insurance coverage on the van.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the show runs until 3 p.m. There will be four vehicle classes and awards will be given at 2:30 p.m. The registration fee is $10. There will also be food and family activities. All proceeds from the car show will benefit Sanchez’s “Team Joely D” fund.

For more information, contact Lou Rodriguez at 290-5827 or John Goetter at 405-2174.

To make a donation, visit

The “Team Joely D” Facebook page is here:

May is ALS awareness month. To find out more about ALS, visit

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