At 90, Alvin is putting his formidable energy into fundraising

October 28, 2020

Dr. Alvin Zipursky just turned a spry 90. His birthday wish is about giving back. This retired Toronto doctor, professor and researcher wants to ensure the next generation supports the ALS clinic at Sunnybrook, a cause that is near to his heart. In 2005, Alvin lost his beloved wife Freda to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a devastating brain disease. After she died, he established the Freda Fund in her memory; he hopes it will continue to make a difference in the lives of ALS patients.

“Because I’m beginning to get older,” he says with a smile in his voice, “I want my family involved in the ALS clinic. I remain extraordinarily grateful for everything the clinic gave to me and to Freda and to others.”

Alvin, who is a great-grandfather, is thrilled that his three sons — Larry, Bob, and Ben, who are all professors in their chosen fields — share his enthusiasm for both teaching and growing his legacy of fundraising.

Sunnybrook’s ALS clinic is the largest of its kind in Canada. Under the direction of neurologist Dr. Lorne Zinman, the clinic provides specialized care for ALS patients and conducts world-leading research. The Freda Fund supports both. It is a critical source of funding for patients in financial need as they tackle the challenging logistics of every-day living. ALS gradually affects patients’ ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow and, eventually, to breathe.

The Freda Fund also supports Sunnybrook’s ground-breaking ALS research. Dr. Zinman and colleagues recently made history by using MRI-guided focused ultrasound to reach deep into the brain and safely and temporarily open the blood-brain barrier in ALS patients. The next step is to deliver promising ALS therapeutics, with great precision, directly into the brain.

Alvin has tremendous hope for the future for ALS patients. In his career as a pediatrician and hematologist, he recalls looking after children who had diseases that were incurable, and are now treatable, such as leukemia, or preventable, such as poliomyelitis and measles. “I believe in the potential for improving even a disease for which there is no cure at the moment. I am optimistic.”

And, at 90, he is eager to help make it happen.

Learn more about the ALS Clinic at Sunnybrook