Carl Phelps was an inspiring ALS patient who received national attention when he was able to use his eyes to speak again in April. Sadly, Phelps passed away Sept. 9, but he continues to help others even after his death.
VisuALS, a student-developed communication system for ALS patients, recently named a fund after Phelps, who was the company’s first Beta tester. The goal of the Carl Fund is to help ALS patients who cannot afford the system gain access to life-changing solutions, all in memory of the man who inspired the launch of the company.
Phelps was diagnosed with ALS in 2014 and was the ninth person in his family with the disease. ALS robbed him of his ability to communicate in 2016. However, earlier this year, a group of students from Oklahoma Christian University demonstrated their senior engineering project at an ALS support group meeting.
Using the system, Phelps was able to say “I love you” to his wife, Janice, for the first time in months.
Two weeks later, the students arrived to install the system in Phelps’ home. After seeing the life-changing impact of the system, the students decided to launch a business to help as many people like Carl as possible. Over the next several months, leading up to their business launch, Phelps guided the VisuALS team with invaluable feedback. Just nine days before he passed away, Carl gave a moving speech at the company’s official launch party using the VisuALS system.
Like Phelps, there are many others who have lost their voice due to the terrible disease. The Carl Fund aims to restore their ability to communicate with those they love.
During VisuALS’ launch party on Aug. 31 to celebrate the system’s availability to the public, Phelps inspired the crowd when he used VisuALS to speak about how his life was changed for the better in many ways.
“I was not expecting to get a voice back, but I did," he said. "I wish the best for others like me.”
According to Russ McGuire, CEO of VisuALS, naming the contribution fund after Phelps was simply the right thing to do.
“Carl represents everything that we want VisuALS to be,” McGuire said. “Every single day, he lived out our mission of loving our neighbors.”
The Carl Fund will enable contributions toward affordable assistive technology from neighbors around the world. Every dollar contributed to the fund will go directly toward helping others who need an assistive communication device.
More specifically, when someone needs a solution, he or she can create a Love Fund crowd-funding campaign on the VisuALS website. This will allow family, friends and strangers to donate toward the system. Separate from the Love Funds, the Carl Fund will be used to close the gap for those whose campaigns come up short.
Death cannot stop the impact that Carl left on the world. His desire to love others lives on through the Carl Fund and, more importantly, through all of the lives he touched. To learn more about Phelps’ love for others, ALS or to help give others a voice through a donation, visit www.thecarlfund.com.