Mrs Little Rock raising awareness for ALS

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Ten years ago this month a Little Rock mom lost her husband and father of her young son to the deadly disease ALS.

Since then, she has worked to raise funds and awareness about the disease. And Tuesday, got a look at how those efforts have paid off.

A tour of research equipment may not be exciting to everyone but to Kristi Acri, this year's Mrs. Little Rock, it's the culmination of more than a decade's worth of fundraising efforts all in the name of her first husband, Paul Dunn.

Paul was diagnosed with ALS when their baby boy was just eight weeks old. He died two years later.

"I guess emotionally I wasn't prepared or ready to really talk about it without having a tear come to my eye," said Kristi Acri. "It's been ten years since my first husband passed away from ALS and I thought what better way to honor him and just do it this year."

Kristi is talking about her decision to compete in the Mrs. Arkansas pageant this weekend. She sees it as an opportunity to bring awareness to a disease that still has no cure.

"In 150 years since it was first characterized, we really have made very little progress. Only in the last year and a half has a new drug come along that is going to fundamentally change the landscape," said Doctor John Crow, the director of the J. Thomas May Center for ALS Research.

Dr. Crow says this new drug is giving ALS patients, and their families, hope. And it could not have been discovered without the support of people like the Acris, who help fund the research center at UAMS with an annual golf tournament which not only honors Paul Dunn's legacy but might someday help put an end to this deadly disease.

"I hope one day I can wake up and see on the news that we found a cure for ALS. And if I don't get to see that day I just know that my son Parker will and I'm just so anxiously awaiting that," said Kristi.

Click here for more information on the ALS Research Center at UAMS.

Click here for more information on the Paul Dunn Classic Golf Tourney.

Click here for more information on Mrs. Arkansas America Pageant.