Van Buren Firefighter With ALS To Join Friend In Stem Cell Treatment

VAN BUREN (KFSM)- An update to a story we first brought to you earlier this month of a Van Buren man with ALS taking part in a new treatment has now made a new friend who he has also helped become a part of the trial.

Earlier this month ALS patient, Mark Bedwell made his first visit to Boston to take part in a new stem cell technology tria.

"Lab work, breathing tests, EKG`s," Bedwell said. "Just to see if I`m strong enough to go through the trial and they said I`m pretty sure strong to go through them."

After word of Mark's story spread around our area, it was able to reach another Van Buren man, Les Stephenson.

Stephenson is a battalion chief for the Van Buren Fire Department and also has ALS.

"I was able to get him the right information, the phone numbers to call and he got on the trials," Bedwell said.

Stephenson will head to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in June, another hospital offering the treatment trial that could reduce symptoms of the disease.

"I`m anxious because it can`t get here quick enough," Stephenson said. "Time is of the essence with this disease. The longer it takes to get into the trial, the worse you may be. So, I`m really anxious to get started and get it going."

Stephenson said it's now nice to know he has a friend who understands what he's going through.

"It`s great," Stephenson said. "It`s nice to have someone to talk to who understands what you`re feeling and has some of the same symptoms you are. You kind of talk about your challenges and try to help each other out with your challenges."

For both men, some of those challenges include using their hands.

"My arm, especially my right arm gets weak," Bedwell said. "It`s hard to write sometimes and I surely can`t button pants or shirts."

"Just things that you don`t think about," Stephenson said. "Like getting stuff out of your pocket."

Now new friends, Mark and Les will continue this journey together, hoping for results.

"We get through this, we`ll all go for a ride," Stephenson said.

Bedwell said his story has reached other countries and he's made a lot of new friends who have shared their ALS story with him.

Both men will go through several trial visits throughout the rest of this year.

5NEWS will continue to follow their progress.

To donate to help Bedwell with medical and travel expenses for the treatment, click here.

Stephenson said he is in the process of determining how he will fund his medical and travel expenses for his treatment trial.