The Brightside Story
Three Friends Rocked by ALS Dedicate Themselves to Funding a Cure.
Bonded by a friendship dating back to high school, three man help raise close to $10 million for ALS research over the past five years.
April 2, 2012. Barry Winovich, Jack Subel, and Treg Charlton have been best friends since high school, attended the Ohio State University together as roommates, and eventually settled down in the picturesque Cleveland suburb of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, to raise their families together. Yet all three were soon to have their lives forever changed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
In 2006, Barry Winovich was diagnosed with the disease following the onset of speech issues. Rather than giving up upon receiving this fatal diagnosis, Winovich went to his best friend Jack Subel with the desire to fight the disease while leaving a legacy of courage for his three children.
Subel then assembled a group of close friends and founded the all-volunteer Bright Side of the Road Foundation, a grassroots organization dedicated to funding scientific research directed at finding a cure for ALS. They established a permanent endowed chair for ALS research at the prominent Cleveland Clinic, and the duo quickly found themselves becoming activists in fighting this rare disease, spreading their message nationwide over the past 5 years and raising nearly $1.5 million in research funding. From Hollywood to Chicago, their grassroots organization is continually raising funds for ALS research with special events while also involving the friends and families of ALS patients.
Treg Charlton, the third member of this trio of childhood friends, became a strong advocate for the group as well as a close supporter of Barry in his personal struggles with the disease. That’s why it was so stunning when Charlton himself, against all odds, was also diagnosed with ALS in 2009.
Treg, following the inspirational example set by Barry and Jack, also chose to stand up, stand out, and do something to combat ALS. Treg’s employer CVS/pharmacy holds a nationwide fundraiser for ALS each summer. After going to his employer with the news of the diagnosis, Treg was named the company’s ALS spokesperson and became the face of their campaign. With Treg’s story at the forefront, CVS/pharmacy was able to raise over $4.1 million for ALS research.
Treg also took the opportunity to bring Barry, Jack, and Brightside’s story to CVS/pharmacy. Impressed with the group’s impact in the ALS community, CVS/pharmacy named Barry as spokesperson along with Treg for their 2011 store drive, raising an additional $4.3 million for ALS research.
These three friends continue to work tirelessly for ALS research. Together, they have played a role in raising nearly $10 million to fund leading-edge, scientific research into this rare research. Though struck with news that would shatter many, they have worked together as only best friends can to create a positive message about living and dealing with ALS; demonstrating how the patient -- and the ones around them -- can truly make a difference that matters.
Barry Winovich, along with some close, long-term friends, founded the Bright Side of the Road Foundation in 2006, soon after Barry’s own diagnosis with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
The foundation’s goal was to assemble a collective of energy and resources for organizing events that raise funds for ALS research. To date, the group has raised nearly $1.5 million in ALS research funding.
The foundation is incorporated in the State of Ohio and is organized exclusively for charitable and, more importantly, scientific purposes as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. The foundation’s mission is to:
-- Make grants to support activities and projects relating to the causes, prevention, treatment and cure for ALS such as specific research, drug trials and other medical and/or scientific programs identified as relevant.
After the Foundation was founded, its Board of Directors decided that an effective way to support ALS research would be to remove financial barriers to new and innovative research at an institution extremely well positioned to make an ongoing impact, the Cleveland Clinic. To achieve this, the Bright Side of the Road Foundation created an “endowed chair” with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation – a dedicated fund to provide researchers with a steady stream of income directed at finding a cure for ALS. The Cleveland Clinic is recognized as a global leader in neuroscience research (ranked #1 in Ohio and #5 in the nation).
Bright Side has been called a very different type of fund-raising organization, comprised of long-time friends of its founder, with many friendships dating as far back as childhood. This group is dedicated to making its fundraising events fun, heartfelt affairs, many centering around Winovich’s love for music and held at venues like the House of Blues. Their goal at each events is to celebrate the patients and families dealing with ALS, allowing them to celebrate their combined courage and love, while spreading awareness of the disease and raising funds for research.
Bright Side of the Road Foundation also fundraises through its Band of Hands program, with individual fundraisers involved nationwide. These champions participate in events from marathons to golf outings, even going as far as swimming to Alcrataz and hiking the Pacific Crest trail, all to raise funds for ALS research.