Arnold Schwarzenegger and Other Celebrities Surprise Firefighter Battling ALS with $20K Donation

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sofia Vergara, and Joe Manganiello surprised Los Angeles firefighter Eric Stevens, who suffers from the life-threatening disease ALS, with a hefty donation over the weekend. 

Professional weightlifters competed at the Arnold Strongman USA competition in Santa Monica on Saturday, and the trio attended the annual event.

The competition serves as a fundraiser for the Orphans Fund, Ventura County Widows, CalFire Benevolent Foundation, and the Santa Monica Firefighters Relief Fund, and crowds flocked to the event to see the heavy lifters at work.

During the event, organizers brought out Eric Stevens, who received his ALS diagnosis in August last year, only weeks after he wed his longtime girlfriend, Amanda Stevens.

WHAT IS ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a deadly neurological disease that affects the nerve cells in the spine and brain controlling muscle movement.

Currently, the disease has no cure, and it slowly affects a patient's ability to walk, eat, speak, and eventually breathe on their own. Within three to five years after being diagnosed, ALS typically claims the lives of patients.

THE SURPRISE

Amanda and Eric shared their story with the hundreds of fans that attended the competition, and they got caught off-guard when the event's three charities presented them with a $10,000 donation. 

Eric is reportedly a former captain of the University of California's football team and player for the St. Louis Rams, and the donation will make it possible for him to get much-need access to promising treatments and trials for ALS patients.

THE SECOND SUPRISE

Still overwhelmed by the unexpected turn of events, Eric watched as Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped up to announce that he will match the $10,000 donation. But the surprises were far from over.

Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello both decided to follow Arnold's example and matched the contributions as well. Within minutes, the surprise donation grew to a whopping $30,000. 

ERIC'S RESPONSE

After the event, Eric and Amanda took to social media and shared their heartfelt gratitude with their fans. Alongside a short video clip of the event, the couple wrote:

“We are so incredibly thankful for the amazing support today! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”

View this post on Instagram

Thank you everyone for the continuous support. We can’t even begin to express how appreciative we are. Eric and I are currently on a plane to Boston to visit the ALS Clinic at Mass General. Eric’s symptoms are worsening each day, so we are trying to do everything we can and get as many opinions as possible. We want to figure out all our options and find the best way to tackle this disease. Today his left hand is getting weaker and the constant twitching in both his biceps is starting to spread to his neck, back and legs. His left bicep and left hand often cramp up. His speech is a little slurred, but he is still able to speak well. Overall his body is getting weaker. Every day he wakes up and feels it a little more. Knowing that there are treatments out there that can help slow the progression, we have a great sense of urgency to make some changes in order to have access to them. This will ultimately help Eric and everyone else in the ALS community. Every day without treatment is a day lost. So, we want everyone to know we are going to do everything we possibly can to fight. Fight for treatment. Fight for awareness. Fight for hope. Because that’s all we have right now. If we all rally together, and work alongside one another, we can truly make a difference. Please continue to share our story and spread awareness. Please continue to share our GoFundMe as well (link in bio). Join our Facebook group “Team Stevens Nation” and our Twitter Stevens_nation. Let’s help Eric #axeALS! 💙Amanda

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OTHER FIREFIGHTERS RECENTLY HONORED 

As devastating fires ravaged through Australia earlier this month, the Sydney Opera House decided to "thank the emergency services and volunteers for their incredible efforts and courage."

The landmark illuminated the opera house's sails with three projected images of firefighters standing together and helping community members in need.

The fourth picture showed a handwritten sign with hearts and the words, "Thank you Firies," which is the Australian nickname for firefighters.

Devastating fires frequented headlines last year, as areas in California buckled under its rage. Firefighters worked tirelessly to subdue the wildfires and many people had to evacuate the area for their own safety.

Ellen DeGeneres welcomes 10 firefighters who fought the California wildfires on her show on November 6, 2019. | Source: YouTube/TheEllenShow.

Ellen DeGeneres welcomes 10 firefighters who fought the California wildfires on her show on November 6, 2019. | Source: YouTube/TheEllenShow.

One of those people happened to be Ellen DeGeneres, whose house was saved by the efforts of the firefighters. To show her appreciation, Ellen invited 10 firefighters onto her show so she could thank them in person.

However, thanking them for their bravery is not all Ellen did. In partnership with Nature Valley, Ellen also donated $250,000 to the California Fire Foundation as a token of her gratitude.

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