Rick Carr, Gallatin, Tennessee
In an ironic twist of fate, doctors diagnosed Rick Carr with a form of the neurodegenerative muscular disease his first wife and her mother had. Carr’s mother in-law had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the 1970s and died from it within two years. Carr’s spouse, Marge, also passed away from ALS, a decade after her mother battled the disease. Although the retired engineer from Bridgestone/Firestone has lived with progressive muscular atrophy (PMA) since December 2007, he collaborates with The ALS Association Tennessee Chapter to educate the public about ALS.
Kathy and Rick Carr with Tom Watson's Club
During May, the chapter is recognizing Carr and his wife and caregiver Kathy during ALS Awareness Month for the annual “ALS Across America” campaign.
“The Carrs are inspiring on so many different levels. They are very genuine people who face this disease with grace and hope,” said chapter Care Services Manager Patty Lane. “We are so glad Rick and Kathy are a part of the Tennessee Chapter!”
Lane lauds the Gallatin-based pair, who married in 1990. Together, they forged a family with Carr’s two children from his marriage to Marge. On the professional front, Carr served as a motivational leader to his colleagues at Bridgestone/Firestone for 33 years, where he was a facilities and machine development manager. When asked what he most enjoyed about his time at the tire company, he said, “Helping my teammates achieve their own successes. People success equals company success.”
Carr extends this ethos toward his work with the chapter. He and Kathy have consistently supported the chapter and its fundraising activities since he received his diagnosis. “The Carrs have been the chair family for both the Walk to Defeat ALSŪ and the Drive for a Cure golf event in Nashville and have had record-setting Walk teams both in size and dollars raised,” Lane said. Their Walk team, “Rick’s Rockin Rockets” raised more than $113,000 between 2008 and 2011, while the Drive for the Cure that the couple chaired in 2009 raised more than $83,000.
“In 2010, with a team of 100-plus walkers raising over $40,000 in one year, Rick’s Rockin Rockets made a huge impact on awareness in middle Tennessee,” said Lane. The Walk supports ALS research and services the local chapter provides.
The couple’s filial and professional connections have made such chapter events successful. Family, friends, and onetime co-workers from Bridgestone/Firestone and Kathy’s commercial design firm helped garner attention about these activities and raise awareness of the devastating disease throughout Central Tennessee. Lane also credits Carr’s optimistic and magnanimous outlook for the chapter’s achievements.
“Rick is Rick. He is all about passing on the good to the next guy,” Lane said. “Even though he may have a throng of supporters at the Walk, he is our ‘go to guy’ if a newly diagnosed person with ALS wants to meet another individual with the disease at a Walk.”
Lane said the Carr family will continue to spread ALS awareness throughout middle Tennessee during ALS Awareness Month and during the remainder of the year.