Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the long-running hit Nickelodeon series 'SpongeBob SquarePants, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease ALS.
The 55-year-old animator shared a statement through Variety, announcing the diagnosis and his plan to continue working on the series, which has been on the air since 1999.
'I wanted people to hear directly from me that I have been diagnosed with ALS.,' the statement reads. '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. 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.'
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is a neuro-degenerative disease that affects the neurons in the brain which control voluntary motor functions.
There is no known cure, and very little treatment available for those diagnosed. While the life expectancy for those diagnosed is extremely short, roughly 10% of sufferers live a decade or longer after detection of the disease.