Actor Renée Zellweger, who of course, makes a living using her voice to portray characters — most recently in the brand-new biopic, Judy, about the late showbiz star Judy Garland — has been involved with the ALS Association for almost five years now, most recently for the #VoiceYourLove campaign.
Losing the ability to speak is one of ALS’s most debilitating symptoms.
“A friend of mine who was my PR person for a very long time started to show signs about six years ago, and then was diagnosed five years ago,” Zellweger told Samaritanmag while in Toronto recently to promote Judy. “She's pretty much unable to communicate. She can move her eyes with a great deal of effort.”
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, eventually causing paralysis. The average life expectancy is two to five years after diagnosis, but some, like guitarist Jason Becker, have lived more than two decades, and the late Stephen Hawking, diagnosed at 21, died last year at 76. They both defy the norm.
The #VoiceYourLove challenge is two-fold: to get donations and for people to voice their love for the people in their lives who they’ve lost to ALS or are still fighting. The site includes a section to upload your story and add a photo or video.
In the one-minute PSA, made earlier this year, we see Zellweger with her friend, Nanci Ryder, who is in a wheelchair. Zellweger kisses her forehead, and chats with her, showing her something on her phone, and gently removes a hair or piece of fluff from Ryder's eyelid and adjusts her shirt. – Continue reading Karen Bliss’s interview feature here.