Dutch Bros Coffee hopes to raise $1.5 million for ALS research on Drink One for Dane Day.

When Dutch Bros. Coffee founder Dane Boersma got terribly sick, the family thought he had Lyme disease. It turned out to be ALS.

At the time of his dad's diagnosis, Brant Boersma knew almost nothing about ALS. All he really knew was that Lou Gehrig had it and was forced to retire from baseball because of it.

"Now I know more than I wanted to," says Boersma. "This disease is brutal. It’s evil. To put it simply, you slowly become a prisoner to your body. In my Dad’s case it was slow moving, but when it’s so intimate to your life, time doesn’t matter anymore."


ALS is notoriously difficult to diagnose, especially in the early stages, because it mimics many other neurological disorders. It inexplicably causes motor neurons to die, slowly but surely taking away the ability to move, talk, eat, and breathe. Dane didn't receive a full diagnosis until had already had respiratory failure and was on a ventilator. But Brant and the rest of Dane's family had watched his decline with helplessness and confusion.

"Words don’t really matter or even compare to the feeling of watching your hero go through such a traumatic experience," says Boersma. "I just knew that I needed to be there with my family, by his side."

Dane passed away in 2009 after a four-year battle with ALS.

Dane (left) and Brant (right) Boersma, seven years before Dane's passing. Photo credit: Brant Boersma

Boersma created Drink One for Dane Day at Dutch Bros. to honor his dad and raise money for ALS research.

Boersma describes his dad as "an incredible man" and his personal hero. "He was like a social glue that brought a variety of people together," says Boersma. "He had so many friends and loved so many people." He was known to many by his nickname, The Wiseman.

After what his family went through with Dane's journey, Boersma wanted to do something to educate people about ALS. "Nobody really knew what it was," he says, "so we wanted to not just honor him, but bring awareness to this disease. Shed some light on what it is, bring it to people’s attention."

"Also," Boersma adds, "we wanted to remind those people that cared about him so much that life is happening and we should celebrate that."

And so Drink One for Dane Day was born. On May 10th, Dutch Bros. Coffee will dedicate all of their coffee sales to ALS research—and to the man who never let his debilitating disease get in the way of his love for a good cup of coffee.

Drink One for Dane Day raised $1.3 million for ALS research in 2018. Photo credit: Dutch Bros. Coffee

"Every Dutch Bros Coffee poured on Drink One for Dane Day will fund the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s (MDA) crucial ALS research which is critical to find a cure," says Boersma. "Since its inception, MDA has invested more than $165 million in ALS research, with $20 million having been spent in the last five years."

Drink One for Dane Day is as much a celebration of life as it is a fundraiser for a deadly disease.

More than 30,000 people will be diagnosed with ALS this year, and most will be given two to five years to live. There is no cure at this time.

Boersma hopes Drink One for Dane Day will help researchers find a way to treat the disease However, he says that the May 10th event is about much more than funding ALS research—it's a celebration of life and "a battle cry for love."

Boersma told Upworthy:

On Drink One for Dane Day, I cruise in to all the Dutch Bros stands in town. I buy drinks and toast with family, friends, and strangers. The day has become so much bigger than a disease. It has become this reminder that humanity is incredible. In spite of obstacles or pain, we rally together not only in the pursuit of conquering this horrific disease, but also to unite and celebrate what we have—the ability to make a difference not just in our own lives, but each other’s. Drink One for Dane Day is a battle cry for love, and that’s what my Dad did so well with his life. He fought for love, not just on an intimate level, but on a community level. So if you read this and you’re out there on May 10th, know that there’s a whole community of humans raising a cup to life and love and the ability to make a difference. And even if you can’t donate or swing through and grab a drink, take a minute and salute with us the hope and dream of a greater world.

In 2018, Drink One for Dane Day brought in $1.3 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This year, they're shooting for $1.5 million.

Brant Boersma will be at the original Dutch Bros. stand in Grants Pass, Oregon on Drink One for Dane Day, raising a toast to his hero, The Wiseman. If you'd like to join him May 10th to help fund ALS research, find a Dutch Bros. location near you here.

Family

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

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I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

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The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

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Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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