Cake Boss Star Buddy Valastro's Mom Has ALS

07/10/2012 at 02:20 PM EDT

Cake Boss Star Buddy Valastro's Mom Has ALS
Mary and Buddy Valastro
John W. Ferguson/Getty
Buddy Valastro usually focuses on creating sweet confections for people, but the Cake Boss star has some sad news to share.

"I can confirm that my mother Mary – the heartbeat of the Valastro family and Momma to all of Carlo's Bakery – has been diagnosed with ALS," the TLC reality star tells PEOPLE exclusively.

"She is tackling it with the strength and determination she always shows," Valastro adds of his mom, 64. "The entire family is in this together, fighting for her."

There is no known cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to the ALS Association.

"We'd like to thank all of our fans for the love and prayers," Valastro added. "It means a great deal to all of us."

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