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Keeping hope alive


Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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Spring Valley family copes with ALSBy Carol ThouinMonday, February 12, 2001

When Wes Blakeslee was a youngster growing up on a farm near Mystery Cave, he'd spend hours in the garage tinkering on motors and engines. "He liked anything mechanical and was always working on one of his friend's snowmobiles," said his dad, Sam, who along with wife, Gloria, still live on the family farm south of Spring Valley. "It seemed to be his calling," Sam said.

Today, at age 40, Wes has a new calling. He still enjoys snowmobiles and motors. In fact, he's a development engineering manager for Polaris in Roseau, Minnesota where he lives with wife Connie and their three children. But a devastating diagnosis three years ago caused him to switch gears to focus on the biggest challenge of his life. Wes has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The disease is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease after the famous New York Yankees baseball player who was forced to retire in 1939 due to the illness that eventually took his life. The disease, which affects about one in every 100,000 people, seems to affect men more than women. Symptoms include muscle weakness, decreased muscle strength and coordination, speech impairments and difficulty with breathing and swallowing. The prognosis for ALS is grim. There is no known cure.

Wes first noticed a slight twitching in his bicep that just wouldn't go away. "It went on for a long time -- more than two months," he said. Eventually, he sought medical attention, which resulted in a battery of tests and then in October of 1998, the devastating discovery.

"I knew there was something wrong, but I just didn't believe it," Wes said. He went through a mourning period trying to accept the diagnosis. "It was a very rough time," he said. It wasn't easy for any of the family, remembers mom, Gloria. "We got a call from Wes asking if we were going to be home -- he was coming down to Spring Valley," Gloria said. It was a long trip south for Wes and his family, who live 10 miles from the Canadian border. "We knew something was wrong because we had just seen them," Gloria said. She nervously paced the floor and waited until the entire family, including the couple's other two sons, Mike and Dan, and their families arrived. "It was tough to take," said Sam about the news his son had to break to the family. .....
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Hoffman Stables

Now I think that I know it all

Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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Monday, February 12, 2001

I had written six hundred and seventy-six words in longhand on Wednesday. I always compose my subject in longhand and then, when Iím satisfied with it, I type it and send it off for publication. I had just finished ty ..... 
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The Gift of Life

Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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Monday, December 18, 2000

When the phone rang at three a.m. last Monday morning, my husband Joe sat straight up out of a deep sleep, "Baby time," he said.

With one foot on the floor, he then heard me saying, "Yes, you can dry ginger a ..... 
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Valentines Day

Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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Monday, February 12, 2001

Have you ever thought about why we have Valentineís Day, or who St.Valentine even was? I know that I don't think about this when the day comes around. I usually just think of the things that come with it like cards, c ..... 
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Winter Birds

Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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Monday, January 22, 2000

January 1, 2001: We hear birds singing and see activity in fir trees as we drive slowly past a farm bordering the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Dana Gardner and I are participating in the Whitewater Christ ..... 
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Beneath Tropical Seas

Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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Monday, February 5, 2001

Waves roll in and then recede, as the ocean endlessly caresses this lonely tropical shore. Shallow, crystal clear and deliciously warm are the waters of the all-encompassing sea. The white sand beach is deserted, polis ..... 
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Escape from America

Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Iím a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like itís going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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Telephones

Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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Monday, February 12, 2001

It is Saturday and the telephone rang again for about the sixth time and it is only two p.m. The various jingles, tones, and warbling throughout the house barely stir me. The kids will get it. The phone hardly ever ri ..... 
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Fri, Feb 9th, 2001
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A Fear of FlyingBy John TorgrimsonMonday, February 5, 2000

When I booked an October flight to Ireland for my son and I last summer, I believed that by planning far enough in advance I would eliminate any chance of a screw-up later on. After al ..... 
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