Back in May of this year, Zac Brown Band guitarist, and co-founder John Driskell Hopkins announced the devastating news that he had been diagnosed with Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
It’s a a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control. Eventually, ALS destroys the function of the muscles needed to move, speak, eat and breathe, eventually leading to death. There is currently no cure for the devastating disease.
John shared in a minute long video back in May:
“Every 90 minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with ALS. ALS is a degenerative neuromuscular disease that affects the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement (the muscles we have conscious control over).
The life expectancy of those affected is usually 3 to 5 years from when the symptoms first appear. However, about 10 percent of people with ALS survive for 10 or more years.”
With that being said, he recently made an appearance CBS Mornings, to discuss with correspondent Jan Crawford how the disease has affected him and his family.
John admitted that he first began experiencing symptoms back in 2019, when he wasn’t able to strum his guitar as quickly as he had been in the past. Knowing something was wrong, he began a long series of tests, ultimately leading to his diagnosis:
“We were crying three times a day. I’m like ‘I need to figure out what this means.'”
“We had done the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, I didn’t even know what it was.”
And in an emotional moment, he admitted that he didn’t want to be a burden to his wife, Jen, who was sitting alongside him for the interview:
“I worry about what it means to her. Because I don’t wanna ruin her adult life. This is the most beautiful woman in the world, she could find anyone tomorrow. But I don’t wanna burden this one.”
Hopkins and his wife created a non-profit, “Hop On A Cure,” which has raised over $100,000 for ALS research:
“I’m not a scientist. I’m not gonna be the ones with the research, and the test tubes. I’m someone who has a platform that can explain, ‘I can’t play guitar like I used to, I might not be able to sing one day,’ and if I have an opportunity to spread the word that way, then that’s my responsibility.”
Between shows, he has been practicing “voice-making,” where he records statements and advice that he hopes can be shared to his daughters in the future, when he can no longer talk:
“I, as a father, don’t know what they need yet, and to be there, and when to impart some wisdom, that I think they could probably use later.”
He also admitted that there are three songs he’s writing right now, about what he’s going through.