He Was Given Six Months to Live. Then He Changed D.C.


As he waited inside Room 2358c of the Rayburn House Office Building, the realization set in for Brian Wallach that he had five minutes to shape the rest of his life.

Not save it. He had been given his death sentence nearly two years ago when, at the age of 37, on the day his newborn daughter came home from the hospital, his doctor told him he had the progressive neurodegenerative disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS.

No, this was a chance to accomplish what he’d set out to do after that diagnosis, to make something of this final chapter, something that would materially impact others with this horrible, fatal illness and just maybe — after all, one must hope — allow him a chance to survive it too.

He was dressed in a sharp blue suit and a striped blue tie, the type of outfit he had confidently worn when he worked at the Obama White House or, after that, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, the arc of his professional achievements facing nary a disruption.

But that was then. Now, life was defined by disruptions — visible in subtle ways that day. He had

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