A Young Father Was Diagnosed with ALS and Fought to Change the Fate of the Disease. Now His Story Is a Movie

Brian Wallach and wife Sandra Abrevaya have worked to increase funding and access for ALS research, detailed in the film 'For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign'

<p>Corey Nickols/Getty</p> Brian Wallach in 2023

Corey Nickols/Getty

Brian Wallach in 2023

Brian Wallach is no ordinary guy.

The father of two and lawyer —  former White House counsel for President Barack Obama — was diagnosed with ALS at 37 years old in 2017. But after he spent six months processing the news, he decided to fight, lobbying Congress for more funding and access for ALS research and treatments with wife Sandra Abrevaya by his side.

The couple's moving love story and incredible work — helping to increase federal funding by more than $1 billion — is detailed in a documentary about their life, For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign, streaming now on Prime Video.

"I have real hope," Wallach, 43, told PEOPLE in a 2023 feature. "Based on the science and the amazing progress we're making today, ALS is no longer hopeless."

"This is a disease where families know what the natural conclusion is without the intervention of therapies," Abrevaya, 43, added at the time. "And if one gives you an extra 10 months, then another an extra six months, we're buying ourselves time that's going to help us be here for when a curative therapy arrives."

Related: Young Father Defying the Odds of His ALS Diagnosis Says the Disease Is 'No Longer Hopeless'

Chris Burke Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya
Chris Burke Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya

When Katie Couric first heard about Wallach's work, she reached out to him asking how she could help, ultimately coming on board as an executive producer of their documentary, alongside Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal, who lost his mother to ALS. A chance meeting with Rachel Platten later prompted the singer to donate the rights to her hit "Fight Song" to the film, offering an apt anthem.

"What surprised me is how after watching the documentary, almost everyone's first question is, 'How can I help?' " Wallach said. "The impact is "beyond what I could have ever imagined — I can see and feel how much has changed, and I know we are not that far away from transforming ALS from fatal to chronic. And that's worth fighting for every day."

Speaking to PEOPLE via email this week, Wallach said he hopes viewers take away "three things" from the film, directed by friend Christopher Burke.

<p>Jordan Strauss/January Images</p> Katie Couric and Brian Wallach in Los Angeles in 2024

Jordan Strauss/January Images

Katie Couric and Brian Wallach in Los Angeles in 2024

"First, I hope that the film inspires them to stand up and take action to fix whatever burden they have in their lives," he shared. "Second, I hope that some of the people who watch the film will get involved in the fight against ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. Third, I hope they will tell everyone that they know to watch the film."

"When Sandra and I made the decision to do the documentary we had one goal: To get as many people as possible to watch it," he added. "We are so grateful to Amazon for picking up our documentary and for making our goal come true. It means everything to us."

Last year, former president Barack Obama surprised Wallach and Abrevaya — who met while working on his campaign — at a screening of the film at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Obama has continued to champion the couple's work, much of which is done through their organization I AM ALS, recently writing on Instagram that they prove "that all of us are far more powerful than we know."

Courtesy The Obama Foundation Barack Obama with Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya at SXSW in 2023
Courtesy The Obama Foundation Barack Obama with Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya at SXSW in 2023

Related: Father of 2 Starts Organization to Save His Life and Others After Devastating ALS Diagnosis

"I will always remember Sandra’s response when I asked her if we could start an ALS non-profit," Wallach recalled by email this week. "Part of me knew that she would respond that way. For me, this moment was the beginning of everything. Sandra is the one that encouraged me to go out and meet with the ALS community and I am much smarter for listening to her."

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Though Wallach and Abrevaya keep busy raising their young daughters outside of Chicago, they've recently been on a whirlwind press tour promoting the film, a task that can be both exhilarating and exhausting.

"There are moments when I've thought, 'We've done a lot and it is time to step aside so someone else can be the face of this fight,' " Wallach told PEOPLE last year. "But then I think about the friends I had in the beginning of the fight and how many of them have passed away, fighting until their last day. So I feel an obligation to keep fighting for them and for their families, because this has gone on for long enough. It is time to have the first ALS survivor."

For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign is streaming now on Prime Video.

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