ROCK HILL, S.C. — A Rock Hill family is getting hope, thanks to the community, after a devastating diagnosis: Derek Ingram, a young father of three, is battling ALS.
The Ingrams say they were stunned at the outpouring of community support- after their story was initially detailed on WCNC Charlotte, but that was back in December. It's unbelievable how much Derek has lost just in the last few months.
It is the little things that seem so big now.
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"Kate loves to eat snacks with him, she gives herself a cracker and then her daddy a cracker and she loves that," Derek's wife, Amber, told WCNC Charlotte.
2 1/2-year-old Kate and Elle, who just turned one, are so young they don’t really understand what’s happened to their dad in the last year.
"It's like a flash you were able to do something two weeks ago that now is a challenge," Amber said.
Young father of 3 diagnosed with ALS
But 7-year-old Beau knows exactly the toll ALS has taken on his dad. Just a year ago Derek was coaching Beau's little league team. Now he can only watch as his wife Amber subs in.
"It's hard for him, baseball season is gearing up and this time last year Derek was coaching," Amber explained.
Derek has lost so much just in the last few months.
"Still feels like I’m in a bad dream that I can’t wake up from," Derek said.
He can barely talk now. The couple is trying to record his voice while he still has one.
"So he can record himself saying things like 'I love you.' Simple things he won’t be able to communicate if his voice continues to decline," Amber said.
"It's like being a prisoner stuck in my own body," Derek said. "My mind is still sharp."
When we first met the couple last November, Derek could get around on his own using his motorized wheelchair. Now he needs someone to put his hand on the joystick.
"It's not even day-by-day a lot of times, it's minute-by-minute," Amber said. "We have really good moments and some really defeating and all the things in between."
Derek says the hardest part is not being able to be the hands-on dad he was before. His 7-year-old quietly stepped in.
"In some ways [they] have reverse roles, he's picked up a lot of the things Derek would do, helping me get the girl's shoes on," Amber said."We're just hanging on to every little thing and refusing to give up."
Still, she says, they are hopeful the disease will slow its wrecking ball path. That’s in part because they know so many people are joining their fight. After our initial story aired, donations poured in to their GoFundMe.
"The encouragement we’ve received, people who have walked the same journey who get it who have reached out for encouragement, prayers, financial contributions, it’s just been a tremendous blessing for our family- we’re able to now afford a caregiver Monday-Friday," Amber said.
Local non-profit All Things Possible helped raise money and gifted them a wheelchair accessible van.
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