Pastor Bill is a well-respected Lutheran (ELCA) pastor who served three congregations over a 33-year career before he had to go on disability following the progression of ALS. “I loved the ministry and the work I got to do serving people, preaching, leading, always trying to make the world and life a little better for everyone,” said Bill.
“My perspective on life has not changed that much since my diagnosis but has been intensified because I know I am living on borrowed time,” said Bill. “Reaching 10 years since diagnosis, I am one of only 10 percent that live that long. I always wanted to be in the top 10 percent, but not for this.”
Bill, who went from using a cane to walk, to a walker, then to a wheelchair, has never let ALS slow him down or keep him from achieving his goals. When he could no longer preach, he turned to his hobbies – woodworking, gardening and whiskey making.
“I worked as a carpenter to put myself through college and still like woodworking,” said Bill. “I make a lot of sawdust mostly but I also make wall crosses, children’s toys and handmade pens. My shop benches and power tools have been lowered for access from a wheelchair thanks to my brothers and a friend.”
One of the things Bill is most proud of is the wooden balls he creates to put over a wheelchair’s joystick. “I had trouble with my hands from the get-go,” recalls Bill. “So one day in my workshop I got a two inch round ball, drilled a hole in it and put it on the joystick instead of the rubber knob that is typically on top.” Bill started to get a lot of attention at ALS clinics and other events for his one-of-a-kind joystick ball and was getting requests to make them for others. “I upped my game by staining them and adding five coats of weatherproof and UV proof coating,” said Bill, who now sells them through Adaptive Switch Laboratories.
In addition to woodworking, Bill also makes his own whiskey. All of the proceeds go to ALS TDI research and he has been able to donate thousands of dollars so far. “I always wanted to make beer or wine when I retired. When I got ALS I decided, ‘Hey, life is short – make the good stuff,’” said Bill.
Bill is able to do the things he loves thanks to his Permobil wheelchair and a speech device that is banked with his own voice. “Numotion gave me back my mobility when ALS took it away,” said Bill. Stuart, Bill’s ATP
, “has always been helpful, gets stuff as fast as he can and keeps me informed when the insurance, Medicare or whatever takes additional time. I appreciate that,” said Bill. “Numotion makes life better.”