Growing up as a millennial, SpongeBob SquarePants played a great role in our childhoods and to learn that the mastermind behind this all, Stephen Hillenburg has been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease ALS has really sent some gloomy clouds our way.
In a personal statement, the 55-year-old animator opened up about his medical condition, writing, “I wanted people to hear directly from me that I have been diagnosed with ALS”. The marine biology teacher turned animator was reportedly said to be diagnosed in the early stages of the disease which is also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Despite his condition, the cartoonist isn’t ready to give up his passion for animation and promised to continue working on SpongeBob SquarePants, stating, “Anyone who knows me knows that I will continue to work on ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ and my other passions for as long as I am able.”
Inspired by his love for the ocean, Hillenburg created SpongeBob and the animated world of Bikini Bottom in 1999, the popular franchise started off as a Saturday morning cartoon before transitioning to primetime.
Being one of the longest-running American television series on Nickelodeon, the 10th and 11th season of the animation was announced in March 2016 and was set to air for another 200 episodes.
Short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, causing a loss of control over voluntary muscles. The rare terminal disease was given wide attention through the Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral a few years back.
Until now, there is still no known cure found for the disease. This is so sad, our thoughts and support are with Stephen Hillenburg as well as his family :'(