Five years ago, Raleigh, North Carolina’s own Chris Combs, a loving husband and father of three young children, was diagnosed out of nowhere with ALS. Upon news of his diagnosis, Chris responded by fighting back and transforming ALS research so that future generations could benefit from better medicine for the disease.

Along with his wife Gena, children Anne Marie, Ava Grace, and Christopher, and friends, Chris built Team Chris Combs, a passionate, relentless army of thousands of friends and supporters. Team Chris Combs zeroed in on ALS research that they believed would make a difference and got under it.

Team Chris Combs became a founding sponsor of the Project ALS Therapeutics Core at Columbia University in New York. In only two years, thanks to donations from Team Chris Combs totaling $4.5 million dollars, researchers at the Project ALS Therapeutics Core have screened thousands of potential therapeutic compounds for ALS, developed new model systems for the purpose of improved drug screening, and developed a novel compound called Prosetin, a small molecule under investigation as a new drug for the treatment of ALS.

Starting in 2016, Team Chris Combs threw legendary Raleigh fundraisers to benefit Project ALS. They pushed doctors and researchers to the edge of their abilities. Three years ago, Project ALS was honored to welcome the amazing Gena Fajgenbaum Combs, Chris’ wife, onto its board of directors.

Chris Combs—leader of a movement that has begun to bear fruit—died this week from ALS. He was our friend, a giant, a game changer. Chris taught Project ALS the meaning of grace under pressure. Chris is proof of how one special man can work in his lifetime to benefit the greater good.

Chris Combs changed the world. His impact on ALS research will be felt for decades. His spirit will inspire Project ALS forever.