Weekend: interview with the Cowboy Philanthropist, Mac Laas

Mac is raising money to help a friend survive a serious neurological disorder.

This weekend, we’re donating our newsletter to McKennon “Mac” Laas. If you haven’t heard of Mac, he’s a former oilfield worker who’s currently hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) to raise money for a dear friend who has Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS). We interviewed both Mac and his friend, Allie, for our newsletter. If this interview speaks to you, please do consider contributing to Mac’s fundraising campaign.

War Room Media: Mac, you’re a former cowboy and oilfield worker who's dedicated a significant amount of his time to raising money to pay for somebody else's medical care. What's the story there? Why would a guy who's got steady work decide to make fundraising his full-time job?

Mac Laas: I have dedicated a significant amount of time to raising money for Allie because I truly believe in our friendship and going the  extra mile for others. I have seen people that give. I have seen people that help. They don’t ask for recognition but just do it because they believe in making a difference. Ronald Reagan once said, “There’s no limit to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” I don’t care about the time, the miles or the pain. I’m doing the work to gain support for Allie. I want to shock the world into seeing that there are people out there willing to help no matter how hard it is. 

WRM: Tell us a little bit about Alison's condition.

Alison “Allie” Largent: I am slowly losing muscle control as my brain and nerve connections begin misfiring and causing the muscles to contract on their own and even quiver or tremor. If I try to use the muscles during this time they often freeze up in a painful seizure-like episode in which I am aware and stuck in a painful frozen state.  These episodes begin quickly and can hit at a moment’s notice. These episodes have lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to 7 hours.  Fortunately, we have found some treatments such as botox and a cocktail of nerve and antiseizure drugs to assist with reducing the number and the longevity of the seizures along with Rituxan.  I can no longer receive some of the beginning treatments (IVIG and Plasmaspheris) as they are no longer effective or I have had reactions to the treatments.

We have moved on to Botox to try to stop the muscles from contracting. Unfortunately, there is only so much we can use, so we must pick and choose the worst of the areas to treat. And no, I don't get to use it to look younger...

Rituxan (a form of chemotherapy which has proven effective for other similar diseases) is given in IV form and we are having to play with the timing to figure out what the magic dosage is to procure the best results.  The treatment is working to some degree – however, we have found it is still progressing.

This is our last form of treatment to possibly slow the disease.  After this there are only research possibilities involving stem cell harvesting and treatments which are not covered by insurance and have not proven effective at this time.  The full procedure that was experimental and being researched within the USA has been stopped.  The cost of the full procedure which must be done outside the U.S. is $400,000 and is not covered by insurance.

WRM: How is Mac raising the money? How does the "business model," if you will, work?

ML: I don’t like asking for charity. Allie and I both don’t want a hand out. We worked hard in the past but now Allie cannot physically work. Therefore I will work for your support. I work (miles) for your support for Allie. She benefits and you get a tax write off. 

WRM: And what route are you hiking? 

ML: The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and various alternates. 

WRM: So in the same vein, what's your expected elevation gain/drop over the course of that route? 

ML: Overall elevation gain/loss on Continental Divide Trail: 917,470′ over 3029.3 mi (avg: 303’/mi) 

WRM: How are you getting supplied?

ML: My fiancé is sending boxes with food/gear to various places while the majority are purchasing in town stops. Boosting local economy!

WRM: How many miles/day are you planning on doing?

ML: I want to average +20 a day over the course of the five-month journey, and this goal is based on the route, the weather for that area.  I need to finish prior to the major snowfall in the northern region.

WRM: What is the fundraising goal for this endeavor? (How much money do you need to raise for x amount of care for Alison?) 

ML: As much as possible. The website says a goal of $50,000; however with the possibility of research and experimental treatment, those costs can be as much as $400,000 if she chooses that route. Which is why the goal is as much as possible.

WRM: What effect, if any, has the coronavirus outbreak in the US had on Mac's fundraising efforts? 

ML: Not only has COVID has tightened up everyone’s purse strings and locked down local economies, it’s difficult to gain donations when everyone doesn’t want to spend any money or their businesses are shut down. Otherwise, I think we would be over $100k right now without COVID.

AL: Secondly, getting PR for this cause has been second to the COVID news and many of the publicity sources which originally promised coverage have understandably dried up.  We are now using a campaign based on Facebook, Youtube, and email to spread the news of The Great Western Experiment.  Help Hope Live is also trying to use their resources to publicize the event.  It has been an uphill battle. However, we do not give up.  And we must thank you for your willingness to cover this story as it is newsworthy especially for Mac, which has taken his time out from the O&G Industry to become a leader in goodwill and paying it forward!

Please consider giving to help Allie. For more information, visit Mac’s website or follow him on YouTube. You can also find their campaign on Facebook. If nothing else, we’re sure they’d appreciate it if you shared what they’re trying to do.

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