Community rallies around Raleigh restaurant owner's fight against ALS

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Twelve years ago, Jeanne and John Luther opened the beloved Sola Cafe in Raleigh. A few years later, the Hot Mini 5K was launched to help wounded veterans. Now the annual fundraiser is even more personal.

Three years ago, Jeanne was diagnosed with ALS, "Just one day my left pinky started feeling kind of strange. And then another finger. And then I couldn't cook dinners so well."

The ensuing diagnosis left them both in shock as John recalls.

"The way it was communicated to us was stark and it was stunning," John said.

And it forever changed the Luther's journey, with each passing day ALS grips Jeanne a little harder.

"I'm getting weaker," Jeanne said. "I'm not physically able to do the things that I enjoy."

Things like her favorite activities that include gardening and serving both the Sola community and her family.

"I'm totally dependent on John to care for me at this moment and close friends," Jeanne said.

Using their platform and backing from a strong community, the 5K now raises money for ALS research and support which John says is lacking, "Right now, ALS wins every time and takes the life of the person that gets it."

Instead of 'day-to-day' Jeanne lives moment-to-moment. There is no guarantee she'll make it to race day on Sept. 18. Either way, it will be emotional.

"I'm just looking forward... that I'm going to be there, I hate to say it," Jeanne said.

"When people fill the parking lot and get ready for the race knowing that this will probably be Jeanne's last race it will be really emotional," says John. "And people are aware of it. They see Jeanne in the restaurant and they've seen her progress."

As difficult as the last few years have been, Jeanne, John and their three kids are grateful for their time together.

"It's been the sweetest three years of our marriage," says John. "While it's an impossible thing to deal with, it's strengthened us. It's allowed us to minister and love people better -- love each other better."

Through strong faith they find comfort. Providing Jeanne peace.

"My hope is in God and my faith is in him," Jeanne said. "So that gives me comfort in some very difficult, quiet moments in my heart and soul."

Last year, the race was virtual and this time around you can do in person or run on your own time.

To register and find more details on the 5K check here,
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