Former Mercyhurst employee struggles against ALS

Adversity encountered in life is always a great teacher, as great strength, courage, and personal growth often occur as a result.

This “life coach” has certainly become acquainted with my family, as my mom, Nell Hardy, constantly battles and triumphs over the malevolent educator that is the disease of ALS.

Contributed photo: Former Mercyhurst employee Nell Hardy suffers from ALS.Contributed photo: Former Mercyhurst employee Nell Hardy suffers from ALS.

Unfortunately, she is no longer able to work at Mercyhurst due to the muscular deterioration that is the evil of ALS. But she now confidently faces the disease at home with the help of around-the-clock assistance and support.

ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects the motor neurons in the spinal cord, rapidly causing the atrophy of muscles throughout the body. Facing the inabilities to perform even the most basic human functions as a result of ALS may certainly destroy some people’s spirit, but no such devastation has occurred in Nell’s case.

The joyous and charming personality that defines her in the eyes of so many has not suffered at all, as she has remained the same person throughout the entire physical decline.

Her dedicated optimism has also never faltered, as she recently told me, “As my body grows weaker, I, as a person, grow stronger.”

Such a confident statement reveals the advantages of great adversity like ALS, as prosperity and peace of mind can be achieved from a disease clearly intent on robbing its victims of those very same liberties.

To the Mercyhurst community, the coming of May means nice spring weather, Springfest, the end of classes and summer vacation. Those are all awesome events and times to look forward to, but we as a community should also look to another important aspect of the month of May: the start of National ALS Awareness Month.

This initiative, through month long charity events and other programs, gives true hope and optimism to the hundreds of thousands of affected ALS patients like Nell that a possible cure is not an unreachable goal.

Fortunately for everyone here at Mercyhurst, joining this noteworthy cause is a simple and easy thing to do. My family is once again walking at the second annual Walk to Defeat ALS on May 14 in New York City as the “Friends of Nell,” and I am personally inviting all of you to join our team. All you have to do is visit the website,, and click the “Join Team” button anywhere on the page. The simple action of joining our team in the cause against ALS will provide support to ALS victims throughout the nation, and opportunities for funding towards research and development of a possible cure.

Due to her kind and selfless attitude, I’m positive my mom will be extremely grateful for everyone’s help and support toward her cause as she zooms along the walkways of Manhattan with the help of friends, family and, of course, her motorized wheelchair friend Bessie.