Walking for a cause, walking for a cure

  • May. 16, 2012 3:08 p.m.

The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Society of Alberta is holding its ninth annual Red Deer Walk for ALS on June 23 at Little Chief Park at Bower Ponds.

The ALS Society of Alberta is a non-profit organization dedicated to making each day the best possible for people living with and affected by ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Registration for the walk starts at 9 a.m. and the walk commences at 10 a.m. The 4.5 km walk is open to the public but not for furry friends.

Of all donations collected from this event 60% of funds are used for client support in Alberta and the other 40% goes towards national ALS research to find a cause and cure for this disease.

ALS is a rapidly degenerative, always fatal neuromuscular disease. It attacks the nerves that the body would normally use to send messages from the brain to the muscle, resulting in weakness and wasting.

Eventually, the individual with ALS is left completely immobilized, with loss of speech and eventually an inability to swallow and breathe. The mind often remains completely alert and clear. Their sensory neurons will continue to function normally so that they will continue to feel sensations such as heat, cold, and discomfort.

The cause of ALS is still unknown so the ALS Society continues to support research, some happening right here in Alberta, to find what causes this debilitating disease. Research is being conducted in areas relating to genetic predispositions, viral or infectious agents, environmental toxins, stem cell research and immunological changes.

Currently there is no known cure or treatment that prolongs life significantly. The average life expectancy from symptom onset is three to five years.

Approximately 3,000 Canadians live with ALS and two to three Canadians die per day from ALS. However, ALS is a disease of families.

As the disease progresses, individuals become completely dependant, and increasingly unable to communicate their needs. Care almost always falls to the families. Often, family members must quit their jobs to provide the care needed. This adds enormous financial strain on the caregivers.

The ALS Society of Alberta is asking people to get involved in this walk.

“You can get involved by collecting donations and doing the walk, sponsoring someone or just come down to the walk and enjoy the live music and BBQ,” said Lindsay Schalin, manager of resource development and communications ALS Society of Alberta.

For more information on ALS or to donate to ALS please go to www.alsab.ca or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ALSALBERTA.