December Volunteer of the Month: Christine Moretti
While it may not be obvious from her always cheerful demeanor, our Volunteer of the Month, Christine Moretti, has been fighting the odds since birth. She and her twin brother were born three months premature. Christine weighed just a pound and a half. The twins were baptized and given last rites because her parents were told that they were not expected to live.
Survival for such premature babies was quite a remarkable feat 63 years ago, but Christine has proven to be remarkable from day one as she and her brother not only survived, but maintained a fighting spirit that has helped them get past many unimaginable obstacles in life.
Christine especially had to muster her courage and perseverance in later life when she was faced with cancer and a brain tumor. An indomitable fighter, she survived both. Yet, after pulling through these severe illnesses, Christine was faced with another acute situation: primary lateral sclerosis, or PLS. A form of ALS, PLS causes weakness in voluntary muscles of the arms, legs, and face.
The journey that led to Christine’s PLS diagnosis was exhausting. Doctors initially attributed weakness on her left side to the brain tumor, but when the problem didn’t eventually resolve, more exploration was needed. After three long years of specialist visits and multiple MRIs, Christine met with Dr. Goran Rakocevic, the chief neurologist at the Jefferson Weinberg ALS Association Certified Center of Excellence. After a thorough assessment, he was able to finally give Christine a diagnosis, as well as access to an expert, multidisciplinary ALS care team to help her optimally manager her symptoms.
Christine hasn’t missed a moment planning her offense against PLS. She stays abreast of the latest research. She throws herself behind the Greater Philadelphia Walk to Defeat ALS and the Ride to Defeat ALS, urging family and friends to donate to her teams and raise awareness for the ALS cause.
What’s more, she is a valued advocate for the ALS community. She raises awareness near and far, speaking to media personalities, state and federal lawmakers, business leaders, and even our beloved Philadelphia Phillies.
Christine says that in her past she would never have imagined herself having the courage for public speaking. But this disease has changed that. “My PLS diagnosis brings what is important into focus,” she says. “That’s why I concentrate this time of my life on the people and things that matter most to me.”
It’s clear that finding better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for ALS matters very deeply to Christine. Who else would stop Congressman Brendan Boyle at a local restaurant to remind him of ALS priorities?
Yes, Christine actually did that…plus, so much more! Each year, she travels to Harrisburg to meet with Pennsylvania legislators to seek funding for ALS care services. In 2017, she was invited to the floor of the State Senate to receive a proclamation for ALS Awareness Month. She also visits Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress where she makes the case for further funding for ALS research. Additionally, Christine serves as a consumer reviewer for the ALS Research Project at the Department of Defense, where she has become a valued voice as they guide research and ideas.
In fact, Christine Moretti has been a valued voice everywhere she goes, inspiring greater awareness and action in the fight to end ALS. She attends every event possible to support The ALS Association, the Jefferson Weinberg ALS Association Certified Center of Excellence, and the ALS community.
Nothing can prepare a person for ALS, but Christine’s many battles in life have given her the experience and the perspective to bring strength and comfort to all those living with ALS.