Zac Brown Band founding member John Driskell Hopkins announced that he has been diagnosed with ALS. The 51-year-old made the announcement to fans in a one-minute, 12-second video surrounded by his bandmates. Hopkins started the video by saying he had "tough news to share" and that he was with his "brothers and sisters" there to support him.
"Over the past several years, I've noticed some balance issues and some stiffness in my hands," he said. "After careful analysis by some of the country's top neurologists, I have been diagnosed with ALS. Because my symptoms have been slow-progressing from the start, we believe they will continue to be slow progressing going forward. God willing, I plan to be rocking with these amazing people for many years to come."
Lead singer Zac Brown chimed in to thank everyone for their support, adding: "The technology and research around ALS treatments has been advancing, but we still don't have a cure," he said. "Thanks so much for your prayers and for helping us cure ALS." Additionally, Hopkins announced the Hop on a Cure Foundation. The band shared a phone number where fans can donate. The money will be used toward helping fund ALS research.
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a disease that impacts the nervous system that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, the loss of muscle control happens. There is a wide range of symptoms of ALS. Some include twitching and cramping of muscles, primarily in the hands and feet, tripping and falling, fatigue, and inability to use the arms and legs. According to ALS.org, there's no known family history of the disease or presence of a genetic mutation linked to ALS in about 90% of cases. For 5-10% of all cases, there's a known family history of the disease, which is referred to as familial ALS. In those cases, there is a 50% chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and may develop the disease.