News Anchor: I'm Retiring Because Of ALS

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A nearly 40-year veteran of television news, Larry Stogner, the WTVD-TV evening anchor in central North Carolina, announced on-air that he would be retiring at the end of next week because of ALS, the station said, calling it the "end of an era."

"For nearly four decades, I have met you right here, usually at six. Boy, we've seen a lot of change over those years. But, we have to stop meeting this way," Stogner said. He mentioned that his speech had slowed over recent months, something that many viewers had noticed, and said that the reason was ALS: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

ALS is a "progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord," as the ALS Association explains it. Muscles no longer receive messages from the brain and begin to waste away, particularly in the groups that move arms and legs and that are involved in speech, swallowing, and breathing.

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking, now in his early 70s, has had the disease since he was 21. His case is highly unusual. The average life expectancy from time of diagnosis is two to five years and there is no cure of the condition.

Stogner mentioned taking the ALS ice bucket challenge during the summer. "It was great fun, plus it helped raise over $100 million," he said. "Little did I know it was about to change my life."

My career in broadcast journalism is coming to an end," Stogner said. "I am blessed to have had the best job in the world working for ABC 11 and the Walt Disney Company. I am going to take some vacation now with my wife, Bobbi, but I'll be back here in two weeks from today for a chat with my talented colleagues, a few final thoughts, and a more personal goodbye. And now, more than ever, I say to you for all those 39 years, thanks for the company. Have a good night."

According to WTVD-TV, staff members were shocked when they learned the news during a regular meeting.

"While we are rocked by this news, our full love and support go to Larry and his family as he fights against this disease," said station President and General Manager Caroline Welch in a prepared statement.

According to the statement, Stogner has conducted one-on-one interviews with such figures as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and George Bush and was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and had worked at the station since 1976. He and his wife have six children.
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