Local Strongman to Attempt World Record in Support of ALS Research

The Nails and Ales for ALS event will take place at Founders Brewing Co. on July 30
Nails and Ales for ALS - Don Cummings
Strongman Don Cummings, pictured above, was inspired to start Nails and Ales for ALS after his friend Scott Smith with diagnosed with the disease. Smith runs a blog on ALS and started the Flex On ALS movement. // Photograph courtesy of Don Cummings

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is a neurodegenerative disease that directly affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It impacts thousands of people each year, people like Scott Smith and his family.

Smith’s diagnosis, which came in the same year that his wife was expecting their second child, rendered him unable to walk or talk. His journey was heartbreaking to those around him, including his friend Don Cummings, who he wrestled with at Truman State University in Missouri.

Searching for a way to contribute to the fight against ALS, Cummings was put in touch with Ales for ALS. The national fundraising campaign donates a hop blend to breweries across the country, who then donate a minimum of $1 from each pint they sell that’s brewed with the blend. Cummings, who now competes as a strongman, partnered with the program in 2021 and created Nails and Ales for ALS, an event in which he attempts to break world records to raise money for the cause.

Cummings will host his next record-breaking attempt with Nails and Ales for ALS on July 30 at Founders Brewing Co. in Detroit, located at 456 Charlotte St. The event kicks off at 11 a.m. He shares more details below.

Hour Detroit: What is Nails and Ales for ALS? And how has the program allowed you to contribute to ALS research?

Don Cummings: After wrestling in college, I started breaking records for bending things as a strongman. I do nails, structural steel bars, horseshoes, and bolts. I’ve broken 19 world records for steel bending. I had planned on breaking another world record in the summer of 2021 and I wanted to help a charity out in the process. After seeing how devastating ALS was to Scott and the lack of resources, I chose to partner with Ales for ALS, who donates their money to ALS Therapy Development Institute.

Last year, we hosted our first record-breaking event with Founders through Nails and Ales for ALS where I bent 831 60d nails. This year, I am trying to set a new record for bending 12-inch spikes that are used for railroad ties. The unofficial record is 75.

How did Scott’s journey with ALS inspire you to create Nails and Ales for ALS?

Scott was diagnosed with ALS towards the end of 2020, and it hit him really hard and fast. He had a wife and one young daughter when he was diagnosed and another daughter on the way. He’s fighting it as best he can, and he’s a really great writer, so he keeps a blog [flexonals.com/blog] where he documents a lot of the journey and raises awareness.

How can people support the cause?

Last year we raised $13,000, and this year we are hoping to match or surpass that. Anyone can come watch and have a drink. Founders makes their own beer for Ales for ALS and when people buy that they’ll donate a portion to the cause. People can donate money in person or online and all of that will also go toward the research.

For more information, visit fundraise.als.net/nailsforales.