Cyle Harris is a disabled veteran and a Sheep Dog, and like many Sheep Dogs, he has sacrificed much for his country and community over the years. In October of 2008, Cyle was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. During his 39 years, Cyle has served his country in politically unstable regions and witnessed life-threatening scenarios as an emergency medical technician and fireman with the Sherwood, Arkansas Fire Department. Yet his fight against ALS is probably his most daunting. ALS affects a persons ability to move, eat, speak and breathe and has no treatments or a cure. Those diagnosed with the disease typically have a survival rate of two to five years from the date of their diagnoses. Nonetheless, the retired Army veteran tirelessly strives to educate his community about this disease. And as all Sheep Dogs know, “Helping Others is a Way of Life”.

Cyle Harris is a disabled veteran and a Sheep Dog, and like many Sheep Dogs, he has sacrificed much for his country and community over the years. In October of 2008, Cyle was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. During his 39 years, Cyle has served his country in politically unstable regions and witnessed life-threatening scenarios as an emergency medical technician and fireman with the Sherwood, Arkansas Fire Department. Yet his fight against ALS is probably his most daunting. ALS affects a persons ability to move, eat, speak and breathe and has no treatments or a cure.

Those diagnosed with the disease typically have a survival rate of two to five years from the date of their diagnoses. Nonetheless, the retired Army veteran tirelessly strives to educate his community about this disease. And as all Sheep Dogs know, “Helping Others is a Way of Life”.

Cyle retired from the Sherwood Fire Department in May 2009, shortly after receiving his diagnosis. ALS impacted his ability to use his hands along with his speech. Today, he communicates with his family, including his and Michelle’s children, Caroline 8, and Walker, 5, via text messaging but occasionally relies on a Dynavox machine. Harris also has access to a wheelchair, but Michelle says he does not want to use it until “he has to.” A service dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever named “Mustang,” aids Harris by performing activities he can no longer do.

“Mustang is a faithful friend and helps pick up dropped items, open and shut doors, and gets help when Cyle has a choking episode,” Michelle said.

 

Many people have heard of ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but are unaware of the fact that the disease affects 50% more veterans than it does civilians. The cause for such a higher percentage of veterans being affected by the disease is currently unknown. It is for that reason, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance has chosen to recognize Cyle in hopes that we can help increase awareness of ALS, and bring attention to veterans and other Sheep Dogs like Cyle who are dealing with the disease.

May is ALS Awareness Month, and in an effort to recognize Cyle and other Sheep Dogs like him, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) members from across the mid-south region are running in the Warrior Dash (www.WarriorDash.com) in Amity, AR on May 12th. SDIA members are participating in the Warrior Dash to honor Cyle and his dedication to country and community as a soldier, fireman and spokesman for ALS. We hope to bring greater awareness to ALS, and to the struggles of other Sheep Dogs like Cyle who are fighting this disease.

You can learn more about ALS, and ways you can assist with the fight to conquer this disease, by visiting www.alsa.org.