‘Spongebob’ creator Stephen Hillenburg diagnosed with ALS | Inquirer Entertainment
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‘Spongebob’ creator Stephen Hillenburg diagnosed with ALS

/ 03:41 PM March 15, 2017
Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 1.45.17 PM

In this Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, file photo, Stephen Hillenburg attends the world premiere of “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” at AMC Lincoln Square in New York. Hillenburg, the creator of Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” said he has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hillenburg told Variety that he will continue to work on the show and his other passions for as long as he’s able.  (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

While entertaining millions with his hit animated comedy Spongebob Squarepants, the show’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg, is gearing up for a tough battle ahead.

The 55-year-old cartoonist recently revealed that he had been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

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Despite the adverse diagnosis, Hillenburg told Variety about his intent to battle the disease and continue working on the series, which has been shown on Nickelodeon since 1999.

“I wanted people to hear directly from me that I have been diagnosed with ALS,” he said in a statement.

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“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,” he added.

Hillenburg, a former marine biology teacher before embarking on his career as an animator, channeled his love for the ocean into creating the internationally revered Spongebob characters.

He was recently made aware of his illness, which is in its early stage, the report said.

ALS is a terminal illness that manifests in an individual’s nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Those afflicted by it experience stiff muscles, muscle twitching and muscle atrophy. In advanced cases, ALS sufferers also display difficulty in speaking, swallowing and breathing.

Last year, Nickelodeon announced that Spongebob was renewed for its 10th and 11th season, which has been on air with over 200 episodes.

READ: Nickelodeon denies ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ cancellation rumors

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The network also addressed Hillenburg’s diagnosis in a statement.

“Steve Hillenburg is a brilliant creator who brings joy to millions of fans. Our thoughts and support are with Steve and his family during this difficult time. Out of respect for their wishes for privacy, we will have no further comment,” it said.  Khristian Ibarrola /ra

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TAGS: ALS, diagnosis, neurodegenerative disease, Nickelodeon, Spongebob Squarepants, Stephen Hillenburg
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