A member of one of country music’s most popular bands announced Friday that he has been diagnosed with ALS.
John Driskell Hopkins, a founding member, songwriter, and bassist for Zac Brown Band, shared in a short video message to fans that he has slow-progressing symptoms identified by neurologists as ALS.
“Over the past several years, I’ve noticed some balance issues and some stiffness in my hands. After careful analysis by some of the country’s top neurologists, I have been diagnosed with ALS. Because my symptoms have been slow progressing from the start, we believe they will continue to be slow progressing going forward,” said Hopkins, 51.
“God willing, I plan to be rocking with these amazing people for many years to come,” he continued.
Hopkins — also known as Hop — is currently on tour with Zac Brown Band until Nov. 19, according to the band’s tour schedule. He plays guitar, banjo, and ukulele in addition to providing vocals for the group, and he released a solo album last year called Lonesome High.
Michael Loccisano/Getty for Live Nation
In the video, Hopkins and his bandmates asked viewers to donate to ALS research by texting “HOP” to 345-345. Hopkins and his family have established Hop on a Cure, a foundation supporting ALS research to prevent, reverse, and cure ALS while raising awareness and building community.
“The technology and research surrounding ALS research has been advancing, but we still don’t have a cure. Thanks so much for your prayers and support in helping us cure ALS,” bandmate Zac Brown added.
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ALS, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a nervous system disease that weakens the muscles and impacts physical mobility, according to the ALS Association. The disease causes nerve cells to break down, reducing functioning in the muscles.
The prognosis for people diagnosed with ALS is death within three to five years, although there are documented cases of patients living past 10 years with the illness.