ALS patients take flight in special paragliding adventure - KPTV - FOX 12

ALS patients take flight in special paragliding adventure

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WARRENTON, OR (KPTV) -

A group of local people aren't letting a debilitating disease keep them from soaring through the sky.

A legendary Oregon skier who has ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, organized a paragliding adventure on Sunset Beach in Warrenton for others afflicted with the same condition.

Fred Noble said they may be prisoners in their own bodies because of the disease, but they don't have to give up seeking adventures.

One of the men who took to the skies was Brian Epp. He can no longer walk, and speaking clearly is difficult for him. However, his desire for adventure hasn't been eliminated by the progressive degenerative nerve disease.

With the help of his iPad, Epp explained what brought the group of men together on the beach.

"So some of us can take flight," he said.

Much to the surprise of his wife, Larry Atkins couldn't wait to take flight. ALS has progressed in Atkins to the point he can no longer chew his own food and has to be fed through a tube. He said he may have a few regrets, now close to the five-year mark of battling ALS, and that includes never getting his pilot's license.

"I've always wanted to fly everything and anything out there," he said.

His wife looked on with tremendous happiness as her husband flew during his paragliding trip.

"Oh, this is going to be incredible," Patti Atkins said. "He's not going to be able to sleep tonight."

Instructors from Discover Paragliding donated equipment and time to make it all happen. They also brought out the thrill-seekers in three men who may be physically weakened by their illness, but remain full of life.

Larry Atkins said his next challenge is tandem skiing. Fred Noble's adventurous side is also currently being spotlighted by a camera crew for a future documentary.

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