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8:22 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

Young woman reaches out to others with disabilities

Leia Sandefur shows a picture of her friend, Stan Hurst, who died in May 2006 of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Courtesy

Leia Sandefur shows a picture of her friend, Stan Hurst, who died in May 2006 of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Courtesy

Leia Sandefur was born with cerebral palsy and visual impairment.

Those developmental disabilities have not led her to focusing on her own health situation. She wants to reach out to others.

In the spring of 2005, she befriended Stan Hurst, who was afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He died in May 2006.

Hurst had pain throughout his body during the year she knew him and was involved in a car accident 7-8 months before his death.

"He also lost a lot of weight and was pretty much set to a wheelchair the last 3-4 months of his life," said Jeff Sandefur, Leia's father.

Leia saved pennies over a two-year period. She converted them into $71 in currency and donated it in Hurst's memory on Sept. 15 during the Walk to D'feet ALS in Flagstaff.

She is keeping the fund-raising effort going through three collection cans placed in the community. One is at the office of the Division of Developmental Disabilities at 519 E. Beale St., another at Leroy's Ace Hardware at 4550 Stockton Hill Rd., and the third at American Family Insurance at 2510 Stockton Hill Rd.

"We check the cans about once a month," Jeff said. "I want to put out more and have to contact business owners to see if they will allow it."

Leia, 24, said her friend died of a "mean" disease.

"His pain flared up at night and it was tough for him to sleep," she said.