John Driskell Hopkins recently announced the “tough news” that he’d been diagnosed with ALS. The Zac Brown Band founding member and guitarist spoke out for the first time since making the announcement during an interview on Good Morning America on Tuesday morning (May 24). Though Hopkins admitted he’s experienced anxiety like never before, he has “incredible people” in his life who have eased his mind.
“I don’t believe that I’ve ever truly had anxiety until this. I’m super blessed to have this many incredible people that are lifting me up and it makes it better. It makes me feel less worried and far less anxious. I’ve sort of shaken the anxiety,” Hopkins said. Explaining his decline in motor symptoms over the past few years, the Zac Brown Band artist said: “I’m starting to slur. Right now, I feel pretty good today. But I cant jump up from the chair and run down the hallway. I would fall. I’m wearing half my costume all night because it takes me a little longer to button things, and I cant jog down the hall after everyone else.”
The ALS Association explains that ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, impacting the brain and spinal cord’s nerve cells.
Hopkins, 51, announced his diagnosis on Friday (May 20), recalling that he’s noticed “some balance issues and some stiffness in my hands” over the course of several years. He added that experts believe his symptoms will continue to progress slowly, and pledged, “God willing, I plan to be rocking with these amazing people for many years to come.”
Hopkins reiterated that sentiment on Good Morning America on Tuesday morning, saying that music would still define his life: “If I can’t pick up a guitar, then maybe I can program one. I don't think music will ever not be a part of my life. Even if it’s just making a mix tape, you know, I’ll make a mix tape (or) do a YouTube playlist,” he said with a laugh.
“There’s a lot of hope in this and there’s a lot of wonderful technology on the horizon,” he said. “Amazing things happening all over the country and all over the world to eradicate this and to heal motor neurons.”
Zac Brown Band shared ways for fans to donate to ALS research or to learn more information when the group shared Hopkins’ announcement: text HOP to 345-345 or visit hoponacure.org.
Watch Hopkins’ Good Morning America interview here: