June marks ALS Awareness Month

Raising awareness of ALS is a key mandate for ALS Canada and the provincial societies

June is ALS Awareness Month, and organizers are encouraging folks to take part in a fundraising walk in Red Deer on June 18th that would ultimately benefit those fighting the disease across Central Alberta.

Raising awareness of ALS is a key mandate for ALS Canada and the provincial societies. This month is dedicated to educating the public on the disease and the cause.

It is also a great opportunity to meet the ALS community through the national WALK for ALS, which takes place in 90 communities across Canada.

The goal is to raise funds for ALS research and support services, and to channel hope to those affected by ALS, organizers say. The ALS Society of Alberta will be hosting the event in Red Deer, which will be held at Bower Ponds with the kick-off set for 10 a.m. Registration is at 9 a.m.

This volunteer-run event encourages friends, family and community to come together to celebrate and promote hope for a future without ALS.

Sixty per cent of funds raised from each event goes to client support services in Alberta and 40% goes toward national ALS research. This year, the Red Deer WALK for ALS aims to raise $55,000.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is a rapid, always fatal, neurodegenerative 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 sensory neurons in people living with ALS continue to function normally so that they will continue to feel the sensations of heat, cold, discomfort, etc. The mind often remains completely alert and lucid. The result is often a lively, unimpaired mind trapped in an immobilized body, according to the Society.

The average life expectancy from symptom onset is three to five years; the real challenge in the medical community at large is correctly diagnosing ALS in the early stages, so that the ALS Society of Alberta is able to provide the maximum level of assistance to the person living with ALS and that person’s family.

Approximately 3,000 Canadians live with ALS and two to three Canadians die every day of ALS. There is no known cause or cure for this devastating disease.

According to the Society, ALS can also strike anyone, at anytime, regardless of age, sex or ethnic origin. The usual age of onset is 55-65, but people under 20 have been diagnosed.

In at least 90%, it strikes people with no family history of the disease.

The cause is unknown. There is no known cure or treatment that prolongs life significantly yet.

But hopefully that will change soon. We encourage residents to get involved to support this vital cause and help to build hope for those facing ALS.

Email: RedDeerWALK@alsab.ca