Walking to defeat ALS

While it’s not as common of a disease as cancer or heart disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is equally as non-discriminatory and insidious as either disease. According to the ALS Association, approximately 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year and it is estimated that 30,000 Americans might have the disease at any given time.

About 200 people gathered for a chilly walk on Saturday morning in hopes to defeat ALS, raise money to contribute to finding a cure and remember someone lost to the disease. People could walk as part of a team or individually. Registration and check-in for the event began at 8:30 a.m. with the walk starting at 10 a.m. Refreshments were available to participants after the eight-lap walk and all of the money raised would go toward supporting programs and services for people with ALS. This was the fourth year the ALS walk in Minot took place.

There were 25 teams participating in the ALS walk, with about 275 people expected to attend, said Linda Lorentzen, vice-president of the ALS Association Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota Chapter. The Be-Bops, a singing group from Bel Air Elementary School, sang the national anthem and members from the Junior ROTC program presented the colors before the walk started.

Lorentzen said the Minot community has always been very supportive. “A lot of the teams are coming out walking in memory of someone,” she added. “They’re also walking in support or in memory of people they don’t know in support of the cause.”

The whole focus of the ALS Association Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota Chapter is to help people live with the disease, Lorentzen said. “There is no cure for the disease,” she added. The national chapter of ALS, the ALS Association, focuses on research, Lorentzen noted.

“We try to find what the person wants to do and focus on that,” Lorentzen said about the local chapter’s focus on helping people live with the disease. There was one man with ALS who wanted to go to the Eagles concert in Fargo, she explained, so the local chapter was able to borrow a hospital bed for the man to use in the hotel room so that he could attend the concert.

The mission of the ALS Association is leading the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy as well as empowering people with ALS and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.

“The focus of the whole team of staff at the ALS Foundation and the chapter staff is trying to help people with ALS,” Lorentzen said.