The seventh annual Judy Schweitzer ALS Curl for a Cure is set to run Nov. 12th at the Michener Hill Curling Club.
Organized by Judy Schweitzer’s daughter, Carrie Mello, the event is also a chance to celebrate the life of Schweitzer, who passed away from ALS in March of 2013. The event runs from 10 a.m. until around 6 p.m.
Mello began the Funspiel in honour of her mom, who was passionate about curling.
Other highlights of the day include a 50/50 raffle, plus donations will be accepted with all proceeds going to the ALS Society of Alberta. More than 30 curlers have signed up to take part this year, and Mello encourages anyone interested in next year’s Curl for a Cure to email her in September to notify her. Her email address is ALScurlforacure@hotmail.ca.
“At this point in time, we are full – but there are raffle prizes and the 50/50, and they can donate and just come on down to join,” she said, adding the goal this year is to raise $2,500. “There are other teams playing that have been touched by ALS in other ways, too, not through my mom.”
It’s the ideal means of honouring Schweitzer, who was an avid curler as was her family. “Curling was her thing,” explained Mello, adding that her mom was diagnosed about four years prior to her passing. “It was very hard to watch. My mom was the kind of person who was strong for our family growing up, so to watch her lose those abilities (was hard),” said Mello.
The one bright spot was that the family was able to spend time together and express the things they wanted to, she said.
According to the ALS Society of Alberta, ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. Everyday, two or three Canadians die of the disease.
ALS can strike anyone. It most often occurs between the ages of 40 and 70 but can also occur in older and younger adults, and rarely in teenagers. ALS is usually fatal within two to five years of diagnosis.
Meanwhile, the massive popularity of the annual Ice Bucket Challenge has gone a long way to bolstering awareness about ALS, but there is still a ways to go, said Mello.
It’s also important as knowledge of the disease in general (it used to be called Lou Gehrig’s disease) isn’t always very well known. And as generations come and go, fewer people know who Lou Gehrig – the famed baseball play who died of the disease in 1941 – even is.
“More people do know what I’m talking about now – before the Ice Bucket Challenge happened, if I said ‘ALS’ not many people knew what I was talking about. If I mentioned Lou Gehrig’s disease, they might recognize it.” But there is more awareness, “But there will always be room to learn more about how it affects people and how difficult it is both for someone going through it and the family and friends around them.”
Mello said the ALS Society of Alberta was a huge help to her and her family throughout her mom’s illness.
“They really supported us with anything that we could have possibly needed.”
For more information about Curl for a Cure, email the above address or call Carrie Mello at 403-877-3860.