Jaci Hermstad

Jaci Hermstad Photo submitted

Aaron and Deb Gress, of rural Charter Oak, are customers of Spencer Ag Center of Spencer, which is where they met feed saleswoman Jaci Hermstad.

“We worked with her for about two years,” Deb said.

Jaci is 25 and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in February. She has an aggressive version of the disease called FUS p525L mutation.

She went from being able to drive a car to needing a walker in two months.

Deb and Aaron wanted to support Jaci, who is currently undergoing experimental treatment in New York City, New York.

“We talked about having the boys donate one of their 4-H pigs at the (Charter Oak Achievement Days) auction to help raise money for Jaci and her family,” Deb said. “The boys really wanted to do that.”

Their sons Dawson and Peyton donated one of their pigs at the livestock sale on Wednesday night in Charter Oak.

Greg Lear, a part-owner of the Spencer Ag Center, helped organize the auction.

Lear attended the auction and provided information about Jaci.

The sale of the animal raised $3,150, and Deb said additional money will be coming from the sale.

“There were five or six different bidders,” Deb said. “The community and the surrounding communities really came together for her.”

Jaci’s story is unusual because she is a twin. Her identical twin sister, Alex, was diagnosed with ALS at age 11 and died in 2011.

Jaci has been working with researchers of the disease who are interested in her status as an identical twin. The treatment she is receiving was designed specifically for her.

Iowa Congressman Steve King introduced a bill to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accelerate her treatment schedule because of the aggressiveness of the disease.

Toxicity studies of the experimental treatment were required before its use, but the FDA has agreed to let Jaci receive the treatment before the studies have been completed.

King found support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and thanked her in a press release.

The treatment will cost more than $700,000.

Deb said she and her family were glad to help.

“We’d like to thank the community for their support,” Deb said. “It was awesome to see people come out to donate to her cause.”

Individuals interested in donating to Jaci may find more information on the Facebook page Cowgirl Up for Jaci.

Her GoFundMe page is http://bit.ly/HelpSaveJaciALS

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