Orcas Islander Kurt Thorson battling ALS | Letter

This writing is to raise awareness about ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and our community member Kurt Thorson, who was diagnosed with it 15 months ago.

Kurt is 65, a soft-spoken and artistic carpenter who grew up on Waldron Island. He is a problem solver. Over recent decades Kurt single-handedly customized every detail of the Opal house where he and his wife Robin live and raised daughter Tika, who is 25.

When he wasn’t upgrading Darvill’s bookstore expansion, or building an enclosed dining porch on The Kitchen restaurant, he collaborated with me on maintenance and creative improvements at the Bredouw ranch. Kurt helped many other Orcas residents enhance their homes as well. The ALS challenges he’s facing now are beyond anyone’s skill to resolve. His limbs don’t work right, and there is zero cure.

Using a walker, he moves slowly on the ground floor of his home. He’s not doing stairs anymore. His upper body strength is diminishing as is dexterity in his hands. By December he plans to finish his on-line certification as a web designer, though navigating his office chair is not an easy feat. Robin considers where they can find a stable wheelchair so Kurt can “let himself fall into it” without injury. His sanctuary is the red cushioned armchair in the peaceful sunroom he built onto their house years ago.

Robin reads aloud from ALS experts recommending dietary changes to slow advancing paralysis. It’s conflicting information. She’s also tracking a California doctor who uses stem cell treatments to help ALS patients.

On leave from her job as an English Language learning specialist at Orcas Elementary, Robin is busy instigating a team of home-care helpers before her return to full-time work next month. Kurt and Robin’s priority is his ongoing treatment at the Sophia Health Institute in Woodinville, and exploring other avenues of healing.

If you’d like to make a donation to the Kurt Thorson Medical Fund at Islanders Bank you may walk in, or mail contributions to KTMF Islanders Bank at 475 Fern St., or PO Box 699, Eastsound, WA 98245.

Thank you for caring.

Anne Bredouw

Orcas Island