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ALS Worldwide
May 17, 2017

Architect Phil Freelon Lives “New Normal” With ALS

"Phil Freelon is one of the most acclaimed African-American architects of his generation. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2016. Now, his family, fellow business leaders, and friends are celebrating his life and achievements.

One of the largest celebrations was held in April at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina. By his side was his biggest fan, Grammy-nominated jazz singer Nnenna Freelon and Phil's wife of 37 years. 'It’s very clear; our love is here to stay!' sings Nnenna Freelon. The concert was called 'Design A World Without ALS,' a benefit to raise money for research at the Duke University ALS Clinic. Since Phil's diagnosis, the Freelons continue to experienced an outpour of love and support.

Phil Freelon is known for his work ethic and his love of running as a sport. He recently helped celebrate the opening of his iconic project, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. However, the 65-year-old avid jogger can no longer move as quickly, due to ALS. He has used a walker in recent public appearances.

Phil's friend and co-worker said: 'My first thought was, Phil, you stop whatever the heck it is you’re doing. You and Nneena just spend the rest of your time together, spend all your money. You ain’t got to do a dat blang thing.' But, doing nothing isn't Phil Freelon's way.

'You try and figure out what is the new normal going to be,' said Phil Freelon. 'We decided early on that it was not in our nature as a couple or as individuals to retreat into some shell and pretend to hide the truth.' Addressing the event's crowd, he remarked: 'Doesn’t ALS stand for Architect Lecture Series or something? I can bring out some slides and talk about museums!'

Phil Freelon’s work is open, full of light, and welcoming, from the latest Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. to the city bus depot in Durham. He continues to work; his current projects include the North Carolina Freedom Park in Raleigh, North Carolina and the Motown Museum in Detroit." Read more about Phil Freelon at…/architect-phil-freelon-lives-new-normal-a…. *Photo courtesy of the Freelon ALS Fund.

ALS can strike anyone; architects, singers, business professionals, teachers, etc. It attacks indiscriminately, and regardless of their profession or notoriety, affects our family members, friends, and colleagues.