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My love story goes back 50 years.

My love story goes back 50 years. John Driskell Hopkins, better known to everyone else as “Hop”, is my first best friend. We’ve been through it together.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be like my big brother, John.  He’s always been the strongest person I’ve ever known. I mean, like gorilla strength. The dude can lift, carry, move, or heave things no human being should be able to lift. There is a painful irony in the fact that his ALS diagnosis is sapping his strength, little by little…like The Hulk, turning back into David Banner.  So now, I suppose John will just have “regular” human strength instead of “superhuman strength”. 

After his diagnosis in December of 2021, John, his manager Courtney Ortel, and his wife, Jennifer decided to start Hop On A Cure. Hop On A Cure’s mission is to support research to prevent, reverse, and cure ALS while raising awareness, building a compassionate community, and unleashing the healing power of hope.

There’s that strength again…In the face of his own mortality, John bucked despair and created something bigger than himself. John is also stubborn as a mule, so allowing this disease to run his life was not ever in the cards. John, being one of the founding members of Zac Brown Band, decided to use his “stage” for good!

In January of ‘22, John informed my brothers and me (there are 4 of us and John is the oldest) that he had ALS. I think I cried for about six months while I processed the gravity of the situation. I had to figure out how best to support my brother and his family on this journey. In true big brother form, John made the decision for me. He and Jen informed me that the foundation was growing and that they needed support. My path and priorities became clear. Life is funny and you never know what is around the next corner. I joined the amazing Hop On A Cure team and feel incredibly blessed to not only be part of supporting John, but to be working to help the hundreds of thousands of people touched by this horrible ALS monster. 

As everyone says in the ALS world, “It’s not a club that anyone wants to be a part of”, but, goodness, it is a beautiful community and my vehemence to cure motor neuron disease grows every day. I am filled with a fierce desire to help solve these medical puzzles so that no one will ever have to face this disease ever again. John has never limited his dreams and as he says, “Let’s cure ALS, then move on to cure cancer”. I agree. Let’s solve ALL of it!

I still want to be just like my brother. He is a passionate, caring and loving grizzly bear. He is a beacon of light, hope and strength.  His strength, now, is in his fortitude as he pushes to squeeze every drop of nectar out of each day. I see his tenacity in his sweet, beautiful daughters and they make me smile. Each one holding a little piece of the Hulk in their hearts. Maybe someday, I’ll live up to my brother, but I doubt it. In the meantime, I’ll just be grateful for every moment we share.

Big brother John and 4 month old David Hopkins, 1973


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