Heather Robertson (left) and Eileen Campbell look over their notes to prepare for the inaugural Walk for ALS coming up in Williams Lake on June 23.

Heather Robertson (left) and Eileen Campbell look over their notes to prepare for the inaugural Walk for ALS coming up in Williams Lake on June 23.

First lakecity walk for ALS set for June 23

Planning has begun for the lakecity's first Walk for ALS that will take place in Boitanio Park on Saturday, June 23

Planning is underway for the very first annual 2012 Williams Lake Walk for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The walk is being held on Saturday, June 23 in Boitanio Park.

Event co-ordinators Eileen Campbell and Heather Robertson are working hard to organize it and are hoping for a very successful inaugural walk.

ALS is a very debilitating disease that causes voluntary muscles such as those that move legs, arms and tongue to progressively weaken and eventually die. Unfortunately Eileen and her family have first hand knowledge of ALS as Eileen’s husband, Hughie, died of the disease in September of 2010.

Eileen’s friend (Robertson) was very supportive during Hughie’s illness and continues to be so.

Eileen and Hughie knew that something was wrong with Hughie but the ALS disease was not diagnosed for six months.

ALS is diagnosed through a series of eliminations. There is no specific test for ALS. After everything that Eileen has gone through, she wishes she had known someone who had been through this while Hughie was alive to give her someone to reach out to and connect with.

Now that Eileen has been associated with ALS, she is overwhelmed by the number of people in our community who are or have been affected by this disease.

Eileen is a wealth of information. She has words in her vocabulary that she had never even heard of five years ago.

It is so easy to talk to Eileen and listen to her. She is so passionate about working towards a cure for ALS. Eileen is so grateful to the ALS Society for being so supportive to her and her family during and after Hughie’s illness.

Robertson, Eileen, Hughie and several family members and friends went to Prince George for two years in a row to a Walk for ALS.

Family and friends went again in 2011 to honour Hughie’s memory. Eileen says that even though it was a great experience of camaraderie, she felt it would be great to share that same feeling in her own community and thus began the start of initiating this inaugural Walk.

In November 2011 Robertson and Eileen went to Toronto for an ALS Walk Coordinator conference so that they could learn more on how to organize one. In February, 2012, they went to Vancouver for a B.C.-geared conference for volunteering for the ALS Society.

On Saturday, June 16 a Kick-off Barbeque is being held at M&M Meat Shops on Oliver Street. The hot dogs and hamburgers will be supplied by M&M with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to ALS.

The walk will be held on the following Saturday.

Eileen and Robertson are reaching out to the community and are asking for help in providing a sound system at the walk, free entertainment, food donations and silent auction items.

Any individuals, groups or businesses who would like to help can do so by donating any of the above. Any help of any kind will not be turned away. Most importantly, they need walkers.

The goals for the June walk are to raise $10,000 for the B.C. society and to register 100 participants.

The funds go to the society to continue researching to find a cause and cure for ALS, to provide support to patients, families and caregivers, raise funds for patient services and to create awareness of ALS.

One of the ways that local businesses can help is by agreeing to become a sponsor of the walk. They can choose to be a gold, silver, bronze or community sponsor.

The support of the sponsors will keep alive the hope of funding a cure for ALS through research and provide quality care for those people and families living with ALS.

Research over the past decade has helped to extend the lifespan of people living with ALS by a full year. It has been suggested that with continual research, there could possibly be a cure for ALS within ten years.

Individuals can make the inaugural walk a success by registering to become a participant. Pledge forms are available from Eileen or Robertson. Let’s make this walk a great success by being a sponsor, participant or both. Please contact Eileen at williamslakewalk@alsbc.ca and show your support.