In 1981, Mariah was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a fatal, neuro-degenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways to the brain and spinal cord. Three prominent national neurologists gave her a 10% chance of surviving two years.
Yet, three months after the diagnosis, she married Ron Gladis and proceeded to have 2 children—Luke, a graduate of James Madison University, and Cole, a graduate of Ithaca College. Thirty years later, Mariah continues to be a loving wife, a doting mother, and a licensed professional psychotherapist in the state of Pennsylvania. Her courage to continually go forward with grace and determination demonstrates the very nature of her character and the amazing survival capacity of the human spirit.
After thirty-one years, ALS has ravaged Mariah’s body. She needs help waking, walking, dressing, eating, and multitudes of other personal chores. Her tongue muscles have atrophied and she speaks with what she calls her ‘ALS accent’. Wearing a special speech-enhancing microphone to enhance the articulation and projection of her voice, Mariah often tells her audiences, with characteristic humor, that she gives new meaning to the term, “high maintenance woman.”
None of this, however, diminishes her powerful presence and expert ability to do her work. In fact, Mariah acknowledges that it is her personal healing journey that has expanded and deepened her capacity to heal others.