Nanci Ryder Shares ALS Diagnosis, Steps Down at BWR


Today, famed celebrity PR pro Nanci Ryder — co-founder of BWR and frequent “most powerful publicists in Hollywood” honoree — made an important announcement via The Hollywood Reporter: she has ALS and she will be stepping down from her role at the firm to devote herself fully to raising awareness of the condition.

This news is particularly relevant after the ALS and the PR industry itself won widespread acclaim for the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer.

The piece is well worth a read, but here are some of its more inspiring quotes from Ryder herself:

“They haven’t told me that I’m terminal, but the disease is…So you fight. That’s it.”

On the unexpectedly drawn-out diagnosis process:

“It never occurred to me that it was a big problem. I thought it would go away.”

On former client Renee Zellweger, who will now help to publicize Ryder’s fight and work to find a cure:

“I’m still bossy about what she wears and where she goes.”

Ryder says she will miss “everything” about her day job, and the industry will obviously her presence. (On a side note, Ryder is also a breast cancer survivor who famously attended the 2001 Golden Globes without her designer wig.) But there couldn’t be a better reason to continue with ALS advocacy efforts and move beyond the meme. Finally, here’s an inspirational quote about how Ryder found her way into the PR field:

“I was the least likely to succeed. I didn’t go to college. I got married at 19. I moved out here and had no job, but I found this and loved it. And when you find the right thing, it’s amazing. It becomes an addiction.”

The entire piece by Chris Gardner is excellent — especially the quotes from current and former Ryder clients like Michael J. Fox, Courtney Cox and Reese Witherspoon.

[Pic via THR/Brian Bowen Smith]

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.