Williams Lake resident Leo Rankin will be running a marathon Saturday in support of ALS

Williams Lake resident Leo Rankin will be running a marathon Saturday in support of ALS

Rankin running marathon for ALS

Team Rankin was formed to honour the memory of my brother, Ron Rankin, who was carried off by ALS three years ago.

Team Rankin was formed to honour the memory of my brother, Ron Rankin, who was carried off by ALS three years ago.

My brother Ron was an electrician who worked at West Fraser Mills. He was a fun, active guy whose time came way too early.

I walked last year in Kamloops with my niece and her family and I am walking again this year with her in Vernon. As well, I am walking in Williams Lake.

This is the first year for a Williams Lake walk and it is being organized by Heather Robertson and Eileen Campbell

About five per cent of families afflicted by ALS have a direct genetic link. In these cases there is a high chance that other members of the family will come down with ALS.

Unfortunately, another member of my immediate family has been exhibiting ALS-type symptoms. The final diagnosis will not be complete until later this summer.

However, having another family member potentially stricken by this disease has brought it home to me how urgent it is to find a cure for this disease.

I dislike fundraising, as I believe many people do, since it is difficult and somewhat embarrassing to ask people for help.  However, it is a necessary evil in our effort to deal with the many problems of life which need to be addressed. I have run quite a few marathons, but I have never used this recreational (some people would not call it recreational) pursuit as a means to fundraise for a cause. However, in this case, I think I need to put it out there.

I am going to run a marathon on the Williams Lake Secondary School track on June 23, the morning of the ALS Walk.

It should take me approximately five to six hours. I am hoping that my investment in time and effort will inspire people to contribute to the Walk for ALS in Williams Lake and to the Team Rankin site. People can come out and cheer me on at the track or run with me or make pledges during my run.

I want to raise as much money as possible in order to find a cure for this devastating disease. Some of the money raised will also go to support those living with ALS in our community.

You can donate by hitting the ‘Sponsor Me’ button for Team Rankin after accessing the Williams Lake ‘Walk for Life’ site. The link to the site can be reached through www.walkforals.ca. From there select B.C. for province and Williams Lake for ALS Walk — then search for Team Rankin.

Some information on ALS: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS, is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the famous American baseball player who died of ALS in 1941. ALS is a progressive and ultimately fatal neuromuscular disease, which has no known cause, cure or drug therapy of consequence. Individuals who are diagnosed with ALS do not typically survive beyond three to five years. This devastating disease slowly robs the individual of the ability to walk, talk, and ultimately, to breathe.

ALS facts:

• Two to three Canadians a day die of ALS.

• Approximately 3,000 Canadians currently live with ALS.

• In at least 90 per cent of cases, ALS strikes individuals with no family history of the disease.

• Between five to 10 per cent have a familial form of ALS, so two or more of their family members have it.

• ALS can strike anyone, regardless of age, sex or ethnic origin.

• The usual age of onset is between 55 and 65, but some have been younger than 20.

• Nearly 90 per cent of people with ALS died within five years of diagnosis. While some live longer, others die within a few short months.

• ALS affects the whole family.

• ALS is a costly disease — emotionally, physically, and financially.

For more information on ALS, please visit www.als.ca. Or to register for the walk please go to www.walkforals.ca.

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