HIGHLAND, NY – Over 2000 people converged on the Walkway over the Hudson on Sunday for the 9th annual ALS Walk to bring awareness and raise funds in an effort to support on going medical research for early detection or a cure for this deadly disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Some people walked with their loved ones who were recently diagnosed, and others walked in memory of loved ones lost.
Co-Chair Les McCarthy, started this event with the Hudson Valley Chapter of ALS, in 2009 when the Walkway over the Hudson first opened to the public. “We were the first non-profit event to use the Walkway as our venue and back then we were pretty proud of the fact that we had 55 people and raised $4,900 dollars.”
Now, nine years later McCarthy and his Co-Chair, Linda Quinn have witnessed a movement that has cumulatively raised over $1.5 million dollars and increased in participates to over 2000 people and counting.
“We want to thank the entire staffs at both the New York Chapter and Hilltop Management for making this Walk what it has become”, said McCarthy. He additionally thanked the Mid-Hudson Valley based local Walk Committee for bringing a real presence to the event.
Mike Schiano and his family came to the Walk from Staten Island to honor his mother who died of ALS in 2014. “It’s a death sentence”, he said of the disease. “My mother was diagnosed and told she should get her affairs in order.”
An estimated 20,000 people in the U.S. are living with ALS. Those diagnosed with the disease only live 2-5 years after their first signs are detected.
Early signs and symptoms of ALS include muscle cramps and twitching, weakness in the extremities and difficulty speaking or swallowing.
In a pre-Walk speech, McCarthy remembered a dear friend and yearly supporter of the event, Kevin Trotta, who was diagnosed in 2013 and lost his battle to the deadly disease in December of 2016.
“I believe he said some of the most powerful words I have heard”, referring to an interview Kevin did with HVNN.com three years ago (click here for the link to that story)
McCarthy quoted Trotta, “He said, ‘This appears on the surface to be a Lou Gehrig Woodstock, a walk in the park, a big party, but it’s a war. It’s an army crossing the Walkway. We have a common enemy and we are at war, and we are not going to stop until we beat this thing.’
McCarthy and Quinn are already planning next year’s Walk, slated for Sunday October 21, 2018. For more information, go to www.ALSwalks.org