Eight months ago, local athlete Dave Wilson was diagnosed with ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Since his diagnosis, he has been determined to compete in as many athletic events as he can for as long as he can. But he knows his days are limited. Time is not his friend.

"I can always tell when someone has learned about my disease," Dave said. "I can see it in their eyes."


Dave insists that the only pain he feels right now is in seeing the sadness his diagnosis causes others, and in knowing how those he leaves behind will be affected. But Dave does not want to inspire sadness in others. He wants to inspire hope.

"I want people to look at me and say, 'Because of you, I didn't give up.' I want them to keep fighting as I will keep fighting."

In the time he has remaining, Dave is striving to raise awareness and money to find a cure for ALS. To this end, he has established a personal fundraising page and is working with a local restaurant to get them involved with ALS Bites!, a month-long campaign in which the Brigance Brigade Foundation partners with Maryland bars and restaurants during the month of May — ALS Awareness Month — to raise awareness and funds for people battling ALS.

In addition, Dave is reaching out to WBAL, a NBC-affiliated TV station, to cover ALS Bites! And, in the spirit of friendly competition and awareness, he has applied for a Guinness record for the fastest full-distance triathlon for a person with an ALS diagnosis.

But his hopes and dreams don't end there.

Deeply inspired by American triathlete Jon "The Blazeman" Blais in his fight against ALS, Dave has reached out to Ironman officials in hopes of securing a disabled athlete spot at the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona.

Faced with the same diagnosis as Jon, staring down the same dark tunnel — their destinies now one and the same — Dave also contacted Jon's parents and spoke with them about pursuing his dream of competing in Kona. The Blaises, who lost their son to ALS in 2007, are very encouraging and supportive of Dave's wish to keep The Blazeman's spirt alive and to continue raising awareness for ALS.

"It is not only fate that [Jon and I] share," Dave notes, "but also a passion and a goal: to never surrender, to educate, to inspire. To find a cure."

Though Dave would like to think he has plenty of time to accomplish his goals, he knows, realistically, that this is his only chance to live his dream.

"I want to wear bib number 179 with honor," Dave explains. "I want to roll across the finish line in tribute to Jon Blais and to all who strive to live each day to the fullest despite being ravaged by this deadly disease."

Most of all, Dave wants to stand on his own two feet — for himself and for those who no longer can — in Hawaii and hear the words that are music to every triathlete's ears: "Dave Wilson, you are an Ironman."

Columnist's Note: This column is the second in a two-part series on Dave Wilson's battle with ALS.