‘SpongeBob’ creator says he has Lou Gehrig’s disease

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 23: Stephen Hillenburg, the writer of a U.S. cartoon "The SpongeBob SquarePants" poses with its charactor SpongeBob SquarePants at an event held at Tokyo International Anime Fair on March 23, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan. The film of this popular U.S. Cartoon will open on April 22 in Japan. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA – The creator of Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” says he has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Stephen Hillenburg tells Variety he’ll continue to work on the show and his other passions for as long as he’s able.

Lou Gehrig’s disease is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. It’s a progressive disease that attacks nerve cells that control the muscles. There is no known cure.

The 55-year-old Hillenburg is a former marine biology teacher who created the series featuring an animated sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea in 1999.

Nickelodeon says in a statement to Variety that Hillenburg “is a brilliant creator who brings joy to millions of fans” and its “thoughts and support” are with Hillenburg and his family.