Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease after the baseball legend who's career and life were ended by the disease – disables basic motor functions such as use of limbs and the ability to chew and swallow, and usually results in death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is currently no cure for ALS.
There is still hope for a cure, and support is needed to help improve the quality of live for those living with the disease, and that is why Shirley Dubios, coordinator of the Dawson Creek Walk for ALS, is counting on the community to support the second annual event on Sept. 10 starting at Sudeten Hall.
"We need people to really dig in, get out there and collect pledges and just raise more money, because more money is more hope," she said. "You could go one to a thousand [people on a team], and you could walk ten feet or ten miles, it doesn't matter, the point is you're there for support and to help raise money to find a cure."
She said a great majority of the money raised in walks across the country goes towards supporting patient services such as providing financial assistance, equipment and/or transportation so patients can attend treatments that are often out-of-town. Most of the rest of the funds go towards researching the cause, and potential cures, for the disease, and she said there have been some promising breakthroughs in the search for a vaccine for ALS.
For Dubois, the cause is personal, as she lost her brother to the disease after a six year struggle. She said ALS is a "sad, cruel disease" because those affected mainly retain their cognitive abilities and are aware of the progression of the disease and the loss of their other functions.
However, she said she has been heartened by the response of locals to this year's fundraisers.
"We've had really good responses from our businesses this year – we've had some of them who have actually doubled their donations," said Dubois. "I know we're going to blow the roof off what we made last year, and that is a good feeling."
"My dream is one day we can just all walk away and leave nothing bad a sad memory," she added.
Registration for the walk begins at 10 a.m. and the walk begins at 11. Following the walk, there will be door prizes awarded, a draw a for two airfare tickets, and a barbeque put on by a local Rotarian.
For more information or to obtain a pledge form, go online to www.walkforals.ca, or contact Shirley Dubois at 250-786-0107 or 250-719-6143 or by email at [email protected].