Nanci Ryder, a renown Hollywood publicist and co-founder of BWR Public Relations, was diagnosed with ALS in 2014. From then on, she worked tirelessly to raise public awareness, and to advance the search for effective treatments and cures. During her battle with ALS, her loved ones watched their vibrant friend, who was never shy about voicing her opinion, prevented from expressing herself freely.
Several of her closest friends, including Courteney Cox and Renee Zellweger, participated in the “Voice Your Love” campaign to raise awareness about ALS and one of its many debilitating symptoms – losing the ability to speak. Watch this video and learn how the disease impacted each of them and their ability to communicate with Nanci. Our deepest gratitude to everyone on “Team Nanci” for their willingness to share their stories.
From 2014-2019, Nanci participated in the Los Angeles County Walk to Defeat ALS along with her friends and loved ones as “Team Nanci”, raising over $800,000 in support of the ALS community. She has received many awards for her awareness and fundraising efforts, including from the Publicists Guild, The ALS Association, and The ALS Association Golden West Chapter.
On June 11, 2020, after a nearly seven year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Nanci died peacefully at her home, surrounded by her family of close friends.
The following is Nanci’s 2018 ALS Hero Award acceptance speech at the LA Walk to Defeat ALS. It was read by her friend, Don Diamont from CBS’ Young and Restless and Bold and the Beautiful, as Nanci is no longer able to speak on her own.
ALS Can Not Take Away My LOVE
By Nanci Ryder
Living with ALS since 2014
Wow… it is times like this that I really, truly miss cursing out loud. But since this is a family-friendly event, it is probably best for all that I cannot.
After four years of living with ALS, there are many things I cannot do now. But there are many that I can.
I can imagine… no… I can remember what it was like to say my own words, to move when I wanted, to taste coffee, to laugh out loud. I can feel the itch on my nose that needs to be scratched by another’s hand. And I can hear the voice of the first person who started to speak slower to me, as if I was hard of hearing. They were lucky that I can no longer throw things at them.
They don’t call ALS progressive and devastating for nothing.
But I also can remember how awestruck I was when people gathered around me in support… can feel the warmth when I look at the faces of so many people cheering at me for being “brave” can hear the words from friends and even strangers telling me, “You are not alone.
Who knew that this would be the greatest gift of this disease?!
The one thing that ALS can not and will not take away from me is… LOVE. My love for each and everyone of my friends for joining me on this terrible and crazy journey. My love for each of you for being brave and tenacious enough to be here today to stand up for those that YOU love. My love for this wonderful day that we are all sharing here together.
I never intended to be courageous or inspirational, but according to this award apparently I am. So I ask you all today to promise me that – no matter what – that you will never, ever give up. That is another thing that ALS cannot take away – our will to keep going.
Every one of you is essential in the search for effective treatments and cures. Thank you for all you are doing and will do to help.
It is only together that we WILL defeat ALS.