Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that causes the death of neurons which control voluntary muscles. In almost 95 percent of cases, the cause is unknown and there is no known cure. Officially discovered and named in 1874 by Jean-Martin Charcot, ALS affects about two out of every one hundred thousand people in the United States per year. It is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the famous baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS in 1939.
When it became apparent that more research and advocacy was needed to care for victims of Lou Gehrig’s disease, the ALS Association was founded in 1985. It is currently the only national non-profit organization fighting ALS on every front, including global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through their nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships. Many people heard of the ALS Association for the first time during the viral 2014 “Ice Bucket Challenge.” The challenge was a huge success, garnering high profile celebrity participants and bringing awareness to a disease that many had previously not been given much attention. After its completion, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised more than one hundred million dollars for the ALS Association and gained more than seven hundred thousand new donors.
Another annual fund raiser put on by the ALS Association is the Walk to Defeat ALS. The event is national and each chapter of the association hosts its own walk. Not only is this a valuable fund raising event, it also is a great opportunity for companies to promote teamwork and families to come together while raising money for a great cause through online-fundraising and at-work activities. Multiple local vendors supply food and beverages for the participants while they enjoy the festivities.
This year, United Access Springfield got a small team together for their local Walk to Defeat ALS. The walk occurred on Saturday, September 24 and was greeted with perfect weather! Before everyone’s team began walking, there were several performances by a local drumline, the cheerleaders of Drury University, and even a visit from the Springfield Batman. Activities included a blow up obstacle course and T-Shirt design contest, but it seemed like the children preferred to simply play in the fountains. The event ended up being a lively and uplifting day for everyone involved. After all the donations were added together, Walk to Defeat ALS Springfield raised an incredible $55,000 for their local chapter!