Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of one of the longest-running series aired in Nickelodeon, SpongeBob Squarepants, revealed that he has been recently diagnosed with early stages of the neurodegenerative disease, ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as the Lou Gehrig’s disease and motor neuron disease (MND), is a rare terminal illness that affects cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Hillenburg, a former marine biology teacher, decided to pursue a career in animation when he left his job back in 1987. Two years later he enrolled in the Experimental Animation program at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) and graduated in 1992 with a Masters of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation.
A few years later, on July 17, 1999, Nickelodeon premiered its first Saturday morning cartoon show dubbed as SpongeBob Squarepants. It eventually transitioned to the primetime slot when the show became a multibillion-dollar franchise that proved popular among kids and adult viewers.