Bay Area student starts new social media challenge after ALS diagnosis

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Osiel Mendoza, University of Oregon student and Martinez native,was diagnosed with ALS in October of 2016.

The 22-year-old sports business major visited a doctor after he started losing weight, had an uncontrollable twitch in his leg and started having consistent body cramps. After visits with three neurologists, his symptoms lead to the ALS diagnosis. 

Instead of letting time pass, he took to social media to raise awareness about the disease, also known as Lou Gherig's disease. The campaign is known as  #YolkUp4ALS. The challenge includes, cracking a raw egg into a glass, drinking it (a hard boiled egg can be used in substitute) while flexing your arms, showing strength and support for ALS. Mendoza explains that egg yolks have numerous health benefits and insinuate strength, which is lost when you have ALS. For each egg that is cracked, participants donate 10 dollars to ALS, specifically directly to the ALS Therapy Development Institute which is focused on researching for a cure for the disease.

ALS is a terminal, motor-neuron disease, usually diagnosed in people over the age of 50. Mendoza.

There is no known cure for the deteriorating disease, which is commonly described as "being trapped inside your own body". Mendoza's case is rare for someone his age and the doctor said the typical life expectancy of someone diagnosed with ALS is two to five years.

In a post shared on Facebook and in this YouTube video, Mendoza shares the harsh reality of someone diagnosed with ALS. His new puppy, Hendrix, a golden retriever is being trained by Mendoza's fiancé, Bella Gonsalves, to be his service dog to help as he loses grasp of common motor functions. Gonsalves and Mendoza have been together since age 13, when they both attended Martinez Junior High School.

Their eight-year anniversary was on Oct. 19th, 2016, three days later Mendoza proposed and three days after that, on Oct. 25th, he was diagnosed with ALS. Through this, "roller coaster of emotion" Mendoza is incredibly grateful for the support and love from Gonsalves.

Mendoza's specific focus within his major is on Non-Profit Management, hoping to make a difference, bring communities together and help relieve the pain of struggle and unfortunate life situations.

Mendoza said, "Sports have been and are a huge part of my life and I want to impact the world through sports and help people enjoy their lives".

The young sports fanatic recognizes his love from a young age for the Warriors and the rest of the pro sports teams in the Bay Area, calling them out to take part in the challenge. He hopes for a big team who hold a, "heavy voice and a large reach" to partake in the challenge and share his story. Mendoza highlights that he is not being selfish, but he wants his story to help raise awareness for disease and to help make bigger impact for the ALS community. 

Mendoza shared his video on Monday, May 29th, and since the Facebook post has 1200 shares and 93,000 views. Mendoza explains, "it is surreal" and he "never expected this campaign to take off like it did" in such a short period of time. He has been thinking a lot about the power of social media and how various platforms influence and help businesses, but Mendoza says, "this is my life" and the platforms have helped him share his story. 

Donations and more information about ALS, specifically Mendoza's story can be found here