Though the “Ice Bucket Challenge” seems to have slowed down, raising awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is not a dying trend. Six hundred people arrived at the CFSB Center Saturday to participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS.
The event set records for the CFSB Center with the biggest turn out its had since the walk began in 2005.
Jennifer Houston was the administrative project coordinator for the event Saturday.
“It’s absolutely amazing; we couldn’t have asked for better weather,” Houston said. “We had 400 people register online, and another 200 that signed up this morning. The goal we wanted to raise was $60,000 and as of this morning we had raised $68,000 before anybody else had turned any money in (Saturday.)”
There was a strong presence of both community members and students at the walk. Support from the student body came in the form of individuals and groups such as the Murray State basketball and baseball teams, Pi Kappa Alpha, Kappa Delta and Alpha Omicron Pi.
Twenty-five teams registered for the walk, which is twice as many from years past. Teams donned matching T-shirts in support of family or friends affected by ALS.
Callie Coffey, community member, was a member of a team of participants called “Rita’s Angels.”
“My best friend’s mom has been diagnosed with ALS,” Coffey said. “She got the diagnosis two years ago and she is just battling for her life right now. It’s greatly affected her; she’s already on hospice care and has to use a feeding tube and wheelchair. So it’s very close to my heart.”
ALS is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The disease shuts down the motor neurons and causes lack of mobility in victims, and may cause total paralysis in later stages. The disease received more attention recently thanks to the Internet sensation “The Ice Bucket Challenge” which raised more than $114 million for the ALS Foundation.
The attention brought to the subject by the “Ice Bucket Challenge” contributed to the large turn out this year, Houston said.
“The overwhelming amount of awareness the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ created really motivated people to do something or get involved with their local chapter,” she said. “We have a lot of people who didn’t realize there was a Kentucky chapter that they could get connected with.”
Though more people who are not affected by ALS are being educated on the disease, Houston has seen another positive reaction from patients.
“People also reached out for care services and getting patients who are in our networks connected with our chapter and realizing that there are resources available to them,” she said. “So we can improve their quality of life with the services available.”
In addition to the walk, the CFSB Center also held a silent auction. There was a variety of items available to the public to bid on including gift baskets and a basketball signed by the Murray State basketball team to be auctioned off. Some attendees took home more expensive items from the auction like an electric guitar, Murray State corn-hole boards and a Meco 5030 electric grill.
By the end of the event, more than of $69,000 was raised.
The proceeds will benefit the foundation in two ways: aid patients affected by ALS help researchers move one step closer to finding a cure.
Story by Taylor Inman, Contributing writer