Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of "SpongeBob SquarePants," announced Monday he had been diagnosed with ALS.
The disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease, has no cure. It affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and deteriorates motor function over time.
Hillenburg, 55, told Variety he would keep working on the show as he battled the disease. SpongeBob has been on the air since 1999.
Steve Hillenburg is a brilliant creator who brings joy to millions of fans.
Hillenburg was a former marine biology teacher before hitting it big animating SpongeBob. He also directed the 2004 SpongeBob movie and the 2015 sequel.
Social media was quickly full of well-wishes and tributes.
Stephen Hillenburg is one of my heroes. Hope him and his family are doing okay. pic.twitter.com/HkC9qykYeJ— Ted Wilson (@Tedwilson79) March 14, 2017
.@NickAnimation I heard the news about Stephen Hillenburg's ALS.— Justin Odyssey (@TheGrandMac) March 14, 2017
As a man who helped shape my childhood send my best wishes his way.
Get well soon, Stephen Hillenburg pic.twitter.com/HvJQ433Wya— The Parum Club (@parapadarappa33) March 14, 2017
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