Chili to fight a chilling diagnosis

A Chester Springs woman who was diagnosed with what is commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease two years ago is using her valiant spirit to mobilize people to fight for a cure and to assist those who are afflicted. On Saturday, friends and family of Paula Goldstein will gather for “Chilly Chili for Paula,” the second annual chili and cornbread cookoff/fund-raiser, which will benefit the ALS Foundation.

The event will be held from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the VFW Post, 837 Lincoln Highway, West Chester. Attendance is limited, but spots are still available, said Bob Harbison, one of the organizers. The $40 ticket price, which includes 50/50 raffle tickets, also gives attendees a vote for the best chili or cornbread. An additional $10 covers the fee for a chili entry; $5 for a cornbread contender. The top vote-getters in each category will earn a trophy. Contact Harbison at  484-530-2804 or for more information.

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Paula Goldstein is battling ALS.

Despite the toll the disease has taken on Goldstein, Harbison said, “She’s worried about others.” He said the proceeds from the event, which will also include a silent auction, will be earmarked by the ALS Foundation for equipment to assist patients, such as communication devices and wheelchairs.

Goldstein, 58, a mother of three, has no interest in sugar-coating this insidious disease, and she has shared her poignant story on the ALS website. Here’s an excerpt:

“I was officially diagnosed with familial ALS on March 16th, 2010. I believe I've had it since April of 2008. For those two years, I was being misdiagnosed with everything from fibromyalgia to Lyme's Disease to rheumatoid arthritis.

My father had ALS in the early 1980's. It took forever for him to receive a diagnosis. When he finally did, he lived for only another four months. At the time, I remembered asking his doctors if the disease was hereditary. They told me no. I asked if it was painful. They told me no. I asked if it was common in women. They told me no.

Well, they were wrong. Having been my father's caregiver, I saw the ALS progress and I have a pretty good idea of what I'll be going through. ALS doesn't just affect the patient, but everyone around me - my family and my friends. They see what I go through and how difficult it can be to do simple things. Of course they help me, but I have to add time to everything I do. When I was diagnosed I was working at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. I continued to work until it became too difficult. I hadn't planned on leaving my job at the age of 58. I went on short term disability and then onto Social Security.”

To read more, go to's Story.

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