Randy Carlyle greets an estimated 600 participants
Sisters Brooklyn, Courtney and Jordan Battison say their uncle John Stack is their favourite uncle.
That's why they joined in the sea of purple T-shirts at Delki Dozzi Park June 21 for the 12th annual Walk for ALS.
They were joined by many of their family members, including mom, Kathleen Battison. Stack is her brother-in-law.
“John is a wonderful guy with a wonderful sense of humour,” she said. “You can't get much of a nicer guy than John Stack. We love him.”
“We're very proud to be here for him, and we hope this really raises awareness of ALS,” she said. “It's an aggressive disease, and we have to beat it.”
This was the first year the Battison family participated in the walk, but it will now be an annual family event, Kathleen said.
Stack is brother-in-law to Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle, who is also the spokesperon for ALS Canada.
These fundraising events are the bloodline for organizations like ALS Canada,” Carlyle told NorthernLife.ca. “Research is the only way a cure will be found. Right now, there is no cure, and ALS affects many people in a lot of different ways.
“These events are also about recognition. Too many people still don't know what ALS is, but these events bring it out into the open, and by the turnout here today, it shows people really are concerned about this disease.”
Walk co-ordinator Mary-Anne Walsh estimates more than 600 people attended the event. The icing on the cake is the fact more than $70,000 was raised this year in Sudbury.
“I'm in awe,” Walsh said. “I've been watching the online totals for more than two weeks now. At this time last year, online, we were at $10,000. This year, we were at more than $50,000 online, and we have more than $20,000 raised at the walk. The goal was $20,000 and we totally kicked that to the curb.”
She credits that success to the unfortunate fact more and more people are being diagnosed with ALS. She also said Carlyle's presence was definitely a draw.
“I think people are just generally more aware of what ALS is, as opposed to 12 years ago when I started, most people really had no clue as to what it was.”
Walsh's husband, Garret, was diagnosed with ALS some 12 years ago. It's the reason she and her family don T-shirts with the logo, Garret's Gladiators, each year.
The money raised goes to research, but also for client services for people who need wheelchairs and other devices in their homes to help them cope with ALS, she said.
“We will find a cure, and I'll keep doing this until we do,” she said.
Carlyle was similarly impressed by this year's fundraising amount.
“It's encouraging,” he said. “People who have been touched by this disease are stepping up. It's amazing when you sit and talk to the people here just how many have been affected.”