x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Cake Boss Buddy Valastro: ALS is ‘tough, debilitating disease’

We talk with the Cake Boss, Buddy Valstro, Jr, about his mum, who is battling the crippling disease ALS.

Buddy Valastro with his mother Mary. Getty Images for Cake Boss / AFP
Buddy Valastro with his mother Mary. Getty Images for Cake Boss / AFP

In recent days, the Ice Bucket Challenge has been undertaken by everyone from Ben Affleck to the crew of Virgin Radio’s The Kris Fade Show.

But before the campaign to film the dumping of a bucket of ice water over one’s head, or donate to the ALS Association – or better yet, both – went viral earlier this month, the baking superstar Buddy Valastro landed in Abu Dhabi for a sold-out cake-decorating competition at Emirates Palace.

Valastro’s mother, Mary, was diagnosed with ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), in 2012 during season five of his reality show Cake Boss. Since then, viewers have watched her struggle with the disease, which has a typical life expectancy of two to five years after diagnosis.

“My mum’s doing as well as she can,” says Valastro. “It’s a tough, debilitating disease. She’s talking. She’s still breathing. She’s doing good for having ALS. It’s a slow- progressing form of ALS. It’s been almost seven years since her symptoms started.”

Valastro assures viewers his mum will appear in season seven, which starts filming soon. “We’re getting her the best care the world has to offer,” he says. Mary, it turns out, has been receiving stem cell treatments. Early studies have shown that stem cells can slow the progression of ALS and extend the lives in some patients. Valastro and his family have also set up the Momma Mary Foundation to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds to support ALS research.

Season four of Cake Boss is currently on TLC on OSN channel 212, Sundays to Thursdays. Season two of Valastro’s show Next Great Baker is also currently running on Sundays (until September 7), also on TLC.

On Fatafeat, season three of Cake Boss can be seen on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and the second season of Valastro’s reality show Kitchen Boss is broadcast daily.

• To donate to the Momma Mary Foundation, go to www.mommamaryfoundation.org; for more on the Ice Bucket Challenge and to donate, go to www.alsa.org

sjohnson@thenational.ae