Tags: stephen hillenburg | spongebob squarepants | als

'SpongeBob' Creator Stephen Hillenburg Reveals ALS Diagnosis

Image: 'SpongeBob' Creator Stephen Hillenburg Reveals ALS Diagnosis
"SpongeBob SquarePants" creator and executive producer Stephen Hillenburg announced Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with ALS. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Paramount International)

By    |   Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 06:01 PM

Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the multibillion-dollar Nickelodeon show “SpongeBob SquarePants,” revealed in a released statement that he has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, but he plans to continue working on the show, which was recently renewed for its 10th and 11th seasons.

Hillenburg, 55, is a former marine biology teacher who wanted to create his own characters and show. “SpongeBob” started out as a Saturday morning cartoon, according to Variety, but transitioned to prime time as it gained popularity with viewers.

A source close to the situation told Variety that Hillenburg’s diagnosis is recent and that he is in the early stages of the neurodegenerative disease, which can cause difficulties in brain functioning as well as loss of voluntary muscle control, and eventually, paralysis.

Life expectancy after diagnosis is typically two to 10 years, sometimes longer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Hillenburg studied animation in college and worked as a teacher until landing a position with the Nickelodeon show “Rocko’s Modern Life,” where he met the future voice of SpongeBob, Tom Kenny, The Washington Post reported.

Hillenburg later created “SpongeBob SquarePants” to showcase joyful innocence. He likens the character to Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy—an innocent and childlike character whose physical comedy anyone can enjoy, The Washington Post reported.

ALS is a rare disease that has received more attention in recent years after the ice bucket challenge that went viral on social media. Some of the money raised in that challenge is going to research finding a cure, the New York Daily News reported.

Twitter sent many well-wishes tweeted Hillenburg’s way.

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Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the multibillion-dollar Nickelodeon show “SpongeBob SquarePants,” revealed in a released statement that he has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, but plans to continue working on the show.
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Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 06:01 PM
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