'SpongeBob SquarePants' Creator Announces ALS Diagnosis, Promises To Continue Working On Cartoon
The creator of "SpongeBob SquarePants," Stephen Hillenburg, confirmed he has amyotrophic laterals sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gherig's Disease. Hillenburg assured his fans he will continue working on the much-loved kids' show.
ALS, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, became known after the viral ice bucket challenges took place throughout the world. Hillenburg said he wanted people to hear it directly from him that he has the disease.
"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," Hillenburg added, as per USA Today. "My family and I are grateful for the outpouring of love and support. We ask that our sincere request for privacy be honored during this time."
Nickelodeon, the network where "SpongeBob SquarePants" airs, said Hillenburg is a brilliant creator who brings joy to millions of fans of the show. They added their thought and support are with Hillenburg and his family during this difficult time. Nickelodeon also said they will no longer comment on the matter as respect for the privacy of the family, Comic Book shared.
Hillenburg worked as a marine biology teacher in the past. He created "SpongeBob SquarePants" in 1999. In 2004, a movie came out based on the cartoon and in 2015, they also produced live-action flick as a sequel to the 2004 movie. Nickelodeon renewed "SpongeBob SquarePants" for Season 10 and 11, and it's expected that 200 more episodes of the character living in a pineapple under the sea.
Meanwhile, ALS attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. There is no known cure and the ice bucket challenges made in the past came up with funds in order to start a research about the disease in an attempt to find a cure.
Persons diagnosed with ALS could live for two to five years from the time of diagnosis. In some cases, the lifespan could exceed more than five years.