Joles remembers ALS sufferer who was determined to vote

Posted at: 08/21/2014 7:17 PM
Updated at: 08/21/2014 7:20 PM
By: Tom Joles, KOB Eyewitness News 4

This story was originally published October 25, 2012. In light of ALS' reemergence into national light due to the "Ice Bucket Challenge", Tom Joles and KOB Eyewitness News 4 are remembering Carl Ross, who didn't let the debilitating disease keep him from taking care of his family or casting his vote in the 2012 elections. Ross passed away about six months after KOB ran this story.

Even though Carl Ross is dying of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, he's determined to do one thing before he goes.

Until just about two years ago, 55-year-old Ross was on top of his game; a 2nd degree black belt in karate, manager of lead projects at Albuquerque's Honeywell, a husband, a father and a grandfather.

That was until he was diagnosed with ALS. ALS is slowly devouring his once strong body. And as a big Kansas City Chiefs fan, he knows the score.

"You either have to go on a ventilator or basically suffocate," Ross said.

KOB Eyewitness News 4's Tom Joles asked Ross what is he thinking about as he nears the end.

"My biggest concern is making sure my wife is taken care of," he said.

Another concern, something that seems startling considering how little time he may have left.

"I want to vote," Ross said. "It's the citizens' responsibility to vote. They say one vote doesn't make a difference. it does make a difference."

Ross said he thinks America is the greatest country on earth, as do many people.

"If they didn't, they wouldn't all be trying to come over here," he explained.

Carl told KOB4 there was never any doubt he was going to vote, but how do you vote when your body won't let you.

"My husband is pretty much a quadriplegic," Ross's wife, Carol, said. "He cannot use his hands."

They started by calling the county clerk's office.

"When we first called down there, I said I can't sign anything - how do I vote and they didn't have an answer," Ross said.

"You may see handicapped parking, you may see people with disabilities, but when it comes to voting, the ballot, no one said what would be easy for him," Carol said. "I never thought we'd have to deal with this situation and if you don't have someone in this situation, you don't really think about it."

They decided Ross would vote by absentee ballot. They were told Carol could hold Ross's hand and help him through it.

"They said, make an 'X' where your name is and send it in by absentee ballot," Ross said.

His absentee ballot arrived on October 10. KOB4 was there October 12 when Carol Ross opened the envelope, and then paused wondering what's going to happen when a ballot counter finds just an 'X' where Ross's name should be.

"And I don't like feeling like it is the case," Carol Ross said. "That my husband is very capable of making his decisions, but he can't physically. So if he's willing, I'm willing."

A wife takes her husband's hand of 32 years and he votes.

"You know what I want," Ross tells his wife. "That one."

And because of Ross's weakened state, it took them five days to fill out the ballot.

Even so, they did it.