On Saturday, September 7th, 2019 there was the historically first Prague City Swim organized by ALSA, an association helping patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the Czech Republic.
Philips Foundation was the main sponsor of the event, providing funds for organization of the Prague City Swim, renovation of a new community center for patients with ALS and their families in Prague, and for regular ALSA activities in 2019. Philips CoughAssist E70 and Trilogy 100 devices to enable the ALS patients breethe and cough were also part of the donation. Koen Joosse, the project manager in the Philips Foundation, is the one we have to thank for his great support in this project.
Although it was cold and occasionally drizzling, several hundred people participated in the Prague City Swim. About 120 of them jumped into the Vltava River and swam or paddled around the Střelecký Island. 4 patients with ALS lying on paddleboards and led by teams of swimmers also went into the river. Prague Philips team has been actively involved. We had 35 volunteers helping to organize the race and 21 of them were swimmers or paddleboarders. Our team accompanied Vladimír Mikuláš, a former physiotherapist of the Czech football representation and a patient diagnosed with ALS 3 year ago, in the patient race of 200 metres and led Vladimír to win the race. „I am extremely proud of our Prague team for their long term active engagement in helping ALSA“, says Tomaž Justin, the Leader of Philips Health Systems in CEE Central district.
„It was not me who won today. It was all of us here at the Střelecký iland and my Philips team who won. I love Philips for what they do for us and I am looking forward to go to their Christmas party“, said Vladimír, who visited our Christmas party last year when Philips Czech Republic donated a car to ALSA, so that their mobile team can visit patients in their homes.
ALS is an incurable disease, it affects otherwise healthy young or middle aged people. Often athletes. Everyone is at risk. The exact causes and triggers, as well as the best treatment, are the subject of research. Important part of that research takes place in Amsterdam.
“There is a similar race in Amsterdam and the whole city lives with it. We hope to meet here at the Vltava River in the future and say that it is the twentieth year of the Prague City Swim, in which the whole city of Prague and many other people who come to visit will support people with ALS,” Eva Baborová, director of ALSA wishes. And she adds that part of today's proceeds will go to the research center in Amsterdam. It is important for the Czech patients to know that they are actively involved in research and are trying to support the treatment of ALS. The second larger part of the proceeds goes to ALSA to extend their everyday help and assistance.
ALSA has been helping patients in the Czech Republic for many years. Their mobile team of speech therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists and nurses visits patients in their homes, organizes reconditional stays for patients and their families, is about to open a community center in Prague and least but not last, continuosly educates doctors and nurses about ways they can help the ALS patients, about available diagnostics, therapy and medical devices – as this is unfortunaltelly quite unknown among the medical community.