Through the Impact Project initiative, Weber Shandwick mobilises our network of thinkers, doers, dreamers and believers to pursue the smartest, most creative ideas to build a more sustainable future. Impact Project is how we contribute back to the world around us - our team members offer their expertise to nonprofit organizations, providing some of the capacity and insight they need to help achieve their vital missions. This is a welcomed opportunity for employees to contribute their skills and passions to important issues.
As part of Impact Project, Weber Shandwick Japan is currently working with IPG sister group McCann Worldgroup Japan, in a joint effort to raise awareness and understanding of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, or MND.
ALS is a terminal disease that is characterised by the gradual weakening and atrophying of the muscles of the entire body, while bodily sensation and cognitive function remain intact. It is a devastating illness that can strike anyone at any time, but the cause and cure remain unknown. The progression of ALS is extremely rapid, with the average life expectancy being three to five years after diagnosis.
Planning Director at McCann Erickson Japan, Hiro Fujita, was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 at the age of 31. Since then, he has established the END ALS Association - with three clear, strong objectives:
1. Help find a cure
2. Build awareness
3. Provide support to ALS patients
To assist in his mission, Hiro has also written a book “99% THANK YOU. Things Even ALS Can't Take Away.” It is a short ‘diary’ that expresses Hiro’s raw thoughts and emotions before and after diagnosis, which he wrote on a computer connected to an eye-tracking system. Describing ALS, he writes:
“I’m writing these words with my eyes…now, the only things I can move are my left index finger and my face… Eventually, I will become a prisoner of my own body and will only be able to move my eyes. But I believe… the eyes can still say a lot”.
Despite the limitations posed by this condition, Hiro continues his work as a Planning Director for McCann Erickson Japan, going to the office once a week and working from home on other days.
Weber Shandwick assists Hiro and the END ALS Association through pro-bono contributions of PR consulting services, media relations and communications support as required.
An English-language version of Hiro’s book, “99% THANK YOU. Things Even ALS Can't Take Away” is now available in e-book format in select Amazon.com, iTunes and Kobo marketplaces. Proceeds from sales will go toward fulfilling the objectives of the END ALS Association.
More information about the END ALS Association is available via the association’s website, their facebook page and Hiro’s blog.