‘For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign,’ Inspiring Story Of Couple Who Founded I Am ALS, Draws Support From Katie Couric & Phil Rosenthal – Deadline Studio at Prime Experience

‘For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign,’ Inspiring Story Of Couple Who Founded I Am ALS, Draws Support From Katie Couric & Phil Rosenthal – Deadline Studio at Prime Experience

Brian Wallach has more fight in him, more grit, than seems humanly possible.

The attorney and former Obama White House staffer was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 37. He could easily have resigned himself to a cruel and unfair fate at that point, but instead he and his wife Sandra Abrevaya chose to battle on – not just for themselves and their family, but to benefit everyone affected by ALS and other conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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Their story is told in the documentary For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign, which premieres May 28 on Prime Video.

Watch the interview here and see photos from the event below.

“I am most proud of the fact that we took a disease that nobody knew and made it a centerpiece in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases,” Wallach said as he made an appearance at the Deadline Studio at Prime Experience in Hollywood. Abrevaya echoed that: “I’m really proud that we’ve had a big impact not only on ALS but on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.”

The couple co-founded I Am ALS, a nonprofit “patient-led community that provides critical support and resources to those living with ALS, caregivers and loved ones.” The documentary shows how Wallach, Abrevaya and their allies have led a successful campaign to dramatically increase federal funding into research towards treatment and a cure for ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Among their allies in the cause is Katie Couric, the former Today Show host and CBS Evening News anchor, who is an executive producer of For Love & Life. “I read an article in Politico about [Brian and Sandra] and I was so taken by their story and deep in the body of the article, it said that there was a documentary being developed for their story. And I said, I want to be involved,” Couric explained. “I just knew right away that I wanted to not only get to know Brian and Sandra, but I wanted to help in a small way elevate what they were doing and try to even bring more attention to it.”

Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond and a fellow EP of the documentary, was drawn to the film for very personal reasons.

“My mom passed from this [ALS]… I wanted in on this and I wanted to help in any way I could because I know what this does to a person and to family,” Rosenthal said, adding, “It’s one of the most uplifting movies ever made because it’s a true, first of all, love story. They’re adorable, they’re great, they’re funny and sweet and charming like movie stars.”

Director Christopher Burke has known Wallach since college. When Wallach and Abrevaya were launching I Am ALS, he helped to shoot a PSA for the organization and, with help from producer Tim Rummel, the collaboration morphed into the documentary.

“I was there with them in all these moments where they’re just living their life and fighting this disease, but also they’re this loving couple,” Burke noted. “You have a moment where she’s pulling a needle out of his chest and he’s correcting the way she’s doing it and whatever. It’s just like this crazy laughter through the most ridiculously difficult thing imaginable. And that, I think, is what keeps it going because nobody wants to sit and listen to a bunch of science statistics. You want to see people going through this and fighting through it.”

“Everyone’s here [on the project] for personal reasons,” Rummel said, “and they’re all here because there’s something about this issue that they care about, and it’s really a labor of love of everybody.”

Among the people who appear in the documentary is Dr. Priscilla Chan, who co-founded the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative with her husband, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg. CZI has become deeply involved in funding research into neurodegenerative diseases including ALS.

“The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative created a program called Rare As One, and at the heart of Rare As One is the insight that patients have all of this incredible knowledge about their disease,” said Jeff MacGregor, an executive producer of the film and until recently VP of Communications for Science at CZI. “They have insights that will help move the science in a big way. They need to be at the table, they need to be a part of the process of moving science forward. And Sandra and Brian are the perfect examples of that. They created a playbook that could allow others to follow in their steps.”

Former President Obama is interviewed in the film, speaking about the work and perseverance of Wallach and Abrevaya. His support for the film has gone beyond appearing on camera for it – he also hosted an event in Austin, Texas during the 2023 SXSW festival where he saluted the couple he first met when they were staffers on his presidential campaign.

Pres. Obama’s support “means everything to me,” Wallach said. “When I was on his campaign, I learned that every person can make a difference and has the power to share their story and to change the world. So, that’s what we’ve been doing. And I owe it all to him.”

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