On 9 February, the Hertie Foundation awarded Bruno Schmidt and his association "ALS - Alle Lieben Schmidt e.V." the Hertie Prize for commitment and self-help amounting to 7,500 euros. The award ceremony took place as part of an ALS information day organised by the DZNE and the University Hospital Bonn.
About 8,000 people in Germany are affected by the nervous disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As the disease progresses, the nerve cells that transmit commands to the muscles gradually perish. "This is an irreversible process that usually first manifests itself with muscle weakness and muscle atrophy in the arms or legs," says PD Dr. Patrick Weydt, head of the motoneuron outpatient clinic at the University Hospital Bonn, one of the few specialised centres in Germany. "Many people are already dependent on a wheelchair at an early age. In addition, patients have difficulty swallowing, speaking or breathing. ALS is not curable and often leads to death within only a few years. "But there are also atypical examples such as the late astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who lived with the disease for 55 years," says neurologist Weydt.
"With my commitment, I can encourage and help others!"
In December 2014, Bruno Schmidt, aged 49, was confronted with the diagnosis of ALS, a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Two years later, the passionate cyclist founded his association "ALS - Alle Lieben Schmidt e.V." for people suffering from this incurable disease. "Their course is different for everyone and no one knows where the journey will take them. But with my commitment I can encourage and help others," says Bruno Schmidt. So he has made it his task to support those affected and their relatives and to support them with advice and action. He wants to draw attention to the disease of the motor nervous system and organizes regular events to collect donations. One example is the second "Tour de ALS" in the summer of 2017, in which the participants rode together for a good cause about 85 kilometers by bike through the Eifel.
Hertie Prize goes to Bruno Schmidt
"The Hertie Foundation honours Bruno Schmidt with the Hertie Prize for commitment and self-help, because with his wonderful gift he manages to inspire other people. With great sensitivity he has developed a committed project with the association ALS-Alle Lieben Schmidt e.V., which gives courage and strength", explains Dr. Eva Koch, head of the MS department at the non-profit Hertie Foundation, which has now presented the Hertie Prize to Bruno Schmidt. The prize money of 7,500 euros is intended to promote project work and support the networking of the various ALS self-help initiatives in North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition, the promotion of ALS outpatient clinics is an important concern.
Professional racing cyclist and eleven-time Tour de France stage winner André Greipel sends a greeting via video message: "Bruno Schmidt inspired and motivated me at the same time. His willpower and commitment have already generated many supporters who promote research into ALS and the associated search for causes and forms of therapy. I am very pleased that his outstanding achievements are now being honoured with the Hertie Prize". André Greipel has already supported Bruno Schmidt and his association "Alle Lieben Schmidt e.V." several times.
The association "ALS - Alle Lieben Schmidt e.V." has already supported the Motoneuronambulanz of the Bonn University Clinic for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Gerontopsychiatry with two large donations totalling 32,500 euros. It specialises in the treatment of ALS patients. The DZNE also received a donation of 5,000 euros from Bruno Schmidt in the summer of 2018.