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Hi! I’m Jeremy,

A guy with many hats hoping to inspire others

I'm a son of God, a husband and father, a first-generation college graduate, a pioneer licensed clinical social worker with Lou Gehrig’s disease, a medically retired Army veteran, a social scientist, a Pat Tillman Scholar, and a hand cycler aiming to qualify for the Paris 2024 Paralympics. I try to serve and inspire others to face challenges head-on.

After I was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2017, I quickly recognized that many people with the disease suffered in silence as they slowly withered away and died in the backdrop of society. The thought of being powerless and discarded into the lonely and obscure corners of my community terrified me. In the end, I refused to let my disease turn me into a victim and started a nonprofit social work agency. Since 2019, I've volunteered thousands of hours and helped hundreds of people with Lou Gehrig’s disease to find comfort and peace.   

I've endured a lot of adversity throughout the course of my life. As a child, I felt the sting of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. At the age of 16, dealing with abandonment, I left home and supported myself. As a result, for the remainder of high school, I faced periods of homelessness while balancing employment and sports to help me get into college. More recently, as my disease compromised my ability to breathe, I was on the verge of death and endured torturous medical procedures to prolong my life. 

But here’s the thing, I'm very fortunate. Amidst all my challenges, I've tasted the sweet redemption of defeating the odds, rebuilding my family relationships, and finding purpose as I've

served others. Throughout my life, especially when things have been hard, I've had the support of people from my church, family, friends, teachers, coaches, and mentors. In many ways, I'm the product of my community coming together to help me rise above my challenges. As a result, I became the first person since Stephen Hawking to earn a PhD after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Yes, I've suffered pain and adversity, but, my life is also a story of hope, resilience, and absolution. I'm evidence of the American dream, where anyone can shoot for the stars, regardless of where they come from and the adversity they face.

I hope what I write in this blog will motivate and inspire you in ways only you can fully appreciate. Please feel free to reach out and all the best to you.



Jeremy J. Van Tress, Ph.D., LCSW

Palliative Care LCSW, Samaritan Albany General Hospital

President and Founder Smile Inside, Inc.

2019 Tillman Scholar

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