THE TOM WATSON AWARD FOR COURAGE
Tom B. Kretsinger Jr.
Tom Kretsinger Jr. followed in his grandfather and father’s footsteps. In 1981, after passing the bar, he joined the family law firm of Kretsinger & Kretsinger, which had specialized in motor carrier law since the 1930s. In 1998 he joined the family business, American Central Transport, Inc., as General Counsel, and has served as ACT’s President since 2005.
Tom has many loves: his wife, Jo, and their four kids and five grandkids. He loves to hunt, fly fish and spend time with the family, and he loves his work. Tom has been involved in the American Trucking Associations, and was in line to be installed as the organization’s president when he received his diagnosis of ALS in the spring of 2014.
Tom admits that for about a month, he was depressed. He says “The hardest thing for me was telling my children. I just couldn't do it. My wife, Jo, talked with the ALS folks, they counseled her and she did it. My wife is a strong woman. She calls me Bark, which is my middle name. Every time I would dwell on it she would say, ‘Back burner, Bark!’ At first I wasn't sure about that but she is right. It's hard not to spend all your time thinking about ALS, but it sure helps if you can get your mind elsewhere and put it on the ‘back burner’.”
Tom has graciously reached out to other people shortly after they have received their diagnosis to share his story and try to help them to know they are not alone. He writes: You are not alone. I have some time and distance from that day I was diagnosed...I know that is a very hard time for you and your family but it will pass in time and you can move on with your life. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
He also continues to work full time and hunt and fish with his friends. “There are adjustments to be made and my buddies help me. I don't know how long I can continue but I will try till I can't.” It is that attitude that has earned him this year’s Tom Watson Award for Courage.
THE GEORGE BRETT AWARD FOR COMMITMENT
Dr. Richard Barohn
Beginning with his postdoctoral training at the USAF Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and extending through his 15 years of service in the U.S. Air Force as General Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Barohn demonstrated an interest in ALS as both a clinician and a researcher.
Prior to even arriving on campus at the University of Kansas Medical Center to become the Chair of the Department of Neurology, Dr. Barohn contacted the Mid-America (then Keith Worthington) Chapter to secure support for an ALS Association Certified Center. Neither he nor the Chapter knew how it was going to happen, but they were determined to get a clinic started in Kansas City. Immediately after arriving at KUMC in January 2001, Dr. Barohn hand selected and trained staff for an ALS clinic and became very active with the Chapter. In August 2002, the clinic was certified as the 18th ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence.
Dr. Barohn has been involved with more than 100 ALS research projects over the past 30 years. In his mind he is constantly searching for the next step, next trial, next piece of the puzzle to find a treatment. And true to his nature, when that treatment is found, he says that will not be a reason to celebrate, but rather a call to action - a time to get back in the lab and work harder.
Dr. Barohn has touched the lives of thousands of families in his multi-decade work with people living with ALS. His reach extends far beyond those he has personally touched. He has mentored the directors of many of the new clinics that have opened throughout the Chapter service area.