A member of one of the most popular country music groups announced on Friday that he had been diagnosed with ALS.
John Driskell Hopkins, founding member, songwriter and bassist of Zac Brown Bandshared in a short video message to fans that he had slowly progressing symptoms that neurologists have identified as ALS.
“Over the past few years, I have noticed balance issues and some stiffness in my hands. After careful analysis by some of the best neurologists in the country, I was diagnosed with ALS. Because my symptoms are progressing slowly from the start, we believe they will continue to progress slowly,” Hopkins, 51, said.
“God willing, I plan to play with these amazing people for many years to come,” he continued.
Hopkins – also known as The Hop – is currently touring with the Zac Brown Band through Nov. 19, according to the band’s tour schedule. He plays guitar, banjo and ukulele in addition to providing vocals for the band, and he released a solo album last year titled high solitary.
Michael Loccisano/Getty for Live Nation
In the video, Hopkins and his comrades asked viewers to donate to ALS research by texting “HOP” to 345-345. Hopkins and his family established Hop on a cure, a foundation supporting ALS research to prevent, reverse and cure ALS while raising awareness and strengthening the community.
“The technology and research surrounding ALS research has advanced, but we still don’t have a cure. Thank you so much for your prayers and support in helping us cure ALS,” added Zac Brown.
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ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease of the nervous system that weakens muscles and affects physical mobility, according to the ALS Association. The disease causes nerve cells to break down, which reduces muscle function.
The prognosis for those diagnosed with ALS is death within three to five years, although there are documented cases of patients living beyond 10 years with the disease.