Friends Fund Scholarship for 1982 Classmate with ALS
Providence, R.I.--In 1982, Kenneth Douglass, Steve Duryea, and the rest of their classmates graduated from Providence College with bright futures ahead of them.
But nearly 20 years later, in November 2000, the course of Douglass’ life took a devastating turn when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Douglass, who lives in Massachusetts and had established his own seafood importing business, continued to work for two more years until his illness forced him to give it up in 2003.
Duryea, who now works in California as the regional development director for PC’s Office of Institutional Advancement, was serving on the College’s Board of Trustees at the time.
“I visited Kenny every four months, every time I had a board meeting,” Duryea said. “Over time, his condition changed, but his spirit didn’t. He hasn’t been able to talk for about eight years, and he hasn’t been able to move most of his body for nine.
“But he’s still smart as a whip, and he can still communicate using a computer. He’s a fighter. He was an outstanding guy [in college], and he still is today. The guy is just amazing.”
Although the typical survival period after a diagnosis of ALS is three to five years, Douglass has been fighting much longer. His daughters, Brooke and Casey, were just toddlers when he was diagnosed.
“The only reason I’m still here is my wife Mary,” he writes. “I wanted to see my girls grow up at least for a little while, and Mary has the mental and physical stamina to help me do it. It’s a wonderful gift.”
In April, Duryea and his classmates established the Kenneth Douglass Class of 1982 Scholarship, a scholarship that Douglass’ other close friends from the Class of ’82 and he are working to endow ($50,000).
“What makes Providence College special and unique is the Dominicans’ influence on the curriculum and on campus life," writes Douglass. "And you can see that spirit of goodwill and brotherhood in the actions of my classmates. I am blessed to have friends like these in my life.”