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Cotton Remembers ALS Advocate Thomas Galyon

December 14, 2017

Contact: Caroline Rabbitt Tabler (202) 224-2353

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today spoke on the Senate floor about the life of ALS advocate Thomas Galyon of Rogers, Arkansas. You can watch the video in full here. In addition, a full transcript of his remarks is below.


Last year, I stood on this floor and said a few words about a fellow Arkansan: Thomas Galyon of Rogers. We had just met to discuss his work with the Arkansas chapter of the National ALS Association. He'd been diagnosed with ALS in 2014, and, never one to let the grass grow under his feet, he'd been a tireless advocate for ALS research ever since then.

Well, I'm sorry to report that Tom died last month on November 22. He lived three years after his diagnosis, which is about average these days for people with ALS. And with his death, the national ALS Association lost one of its great champions.

Tom was always bursting with energy. He was born in 1946 in Abingdon, Virginia, and graduated from Emory and Henry College. He spent 33 years in the tourism industry, and, after a rather brief and, I must say, failed stint at retirement, he went back to work as the property manager for the Center for Nonprofits at St. Mary's in Northwest Arkansas. As luck would have it, the ALS Association was headquartered in that very building, so he could give both organizations his all.

When we met last year, Tom asked me to help fix a problem that people with ALS have when applying for disability insurance. There's a five-month waiting period to receive benefits, you see, and though that might be a prudent antifraud measure in many cases, for people with ALS it consumes a lot of their remaining time in this world. So I joined with Senator Whitehouse to sponsor the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act, which would waive the waiting period for people with ALS. Tom's death should be a reminder of the urgent need to defeat this disease and to finally pass this bill into law.

It's the least we could do to commemorate a man who gave this effort so much-because even in death, Tom's commitment was complete. By his request, his brain and spinal cord were donated to the Brain Bank of Miami, Florida, to continue the search for a cure for ALS.

It's not hard to understand why. He himself used to stress the positive in every situation. His motto was "blue skies always"-and he certainly did all he could to bring blue skies into his life and the lives of those around him.

So now that he has joined our heavenly Father in the blue skies, I want to recognize him and his family that he leaves behind: his wife of 44 years, Sally Armstrong; their two children; and their two grandchildren.

Our state is better off for Tom's having lived in it, and all of us are better off for having known him. May he rest in peace.