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BYU-Idaho student dies four months after being diagnosed with ALS


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Alyssa Barnum Eckman | Parker & Elizabeth Funeral Homes

REXBURG — The Brigham Young University-Idaho community is mourning the loss of a student who passed away Saturday.

Alyssa Barnum Eckman, 21, died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). She was a junior from Colorado studying social work.

Eckman was diagnosed with ALS in February. She and her husband, Jacob, left BYU-Idaho mid-semester and moved to Denver for medical care. Funds were raised that allowed Eckman to interact with family, friends, and loved ones up until the day she died.

“We thank you for helping her to have a way to reach out and interact with others during the last weeks of her life,” her husband wrote.

Alyssa & Jacob Eckman | GoFundMe

The Eckmans married in April 2017. Alyssa loved to read, hike with her family and play games, according to her obituary.

“Alyssa was a strong spirit, overcoming and succeeding despite many challenges in life, relying with great faith on her Savior, Jesus Christ,” the obituary reads. “Alyssa was loved by many and all were touched by her sweet smile. She will be greatly missed.”

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It usually strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and it’s estimated that at least 16,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. Those with ALS retain their brain function but lose their ability to move, eat, speak and swallow.

Eckman’s funeral services will be held Thursday in Parker, Colorado. The BYU-Idaho Student Representative Council is compiling a book of remembrance for her family.

This story originally contained a link to a GoFundMe account. Alyssa’s mother asks those who wish to help with financial contributions to donate to the ALS Foundation for Life.