Over seven years, Virginia's Beth Prever raised $800,000 for ALS research because she "felt like having ALS would be a worst-case scenario diagnosis. It's like living in a glass coffin—your mind is intact, but your body is failing," she tells People. She now understands that horror better than she ever thought she would. After noticing her speech slurring last August, the Portsmouth native was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in April. Her speech is now mostly garbled and she has trouble swallowing; she knows paralysis and respiratory failure are in her future. The Muscular Dystrophy Association notes patients diagnosed with the neurological condition—which has no clear cause or cure—typically live only three to five years, though there are exceptions.
"It's so ironic that I would have ALS," Prever tells the Virginian-Pilot in an email. "I still cry and I'm still coming to terms with it … but I'm choosing to live my life with ALS and not consider it a death sentence." Prever is now checking items off her bucket list. She went skydiving on Sunday, reports WVEC, and hopes to see her "boyfriend" Bon Jovi in concert. She also plans to visit England, Ireland, Scotland, Montana, Alaska, Napa Valley, and New York City, where she'd love to see the Broadway play "Hamilton," reports WTKR. And in October, she'll attend her eighth ALS walk where 131 supporters will raise money for her care. The ALS community has "rallied around me. I feel so loved," Prever says. "I hope that my story will inspire others to use their time and talent to help other people. That will be my legacy." (See what the ice bucket challenge did for ALS research.)