Large turnout for ALS Walk in Westville

Published on June 7, 2014
About 100 people took part in a walk to raise awareness about ALS which was held at the track in Westville. 

The day was cold and the sky cloudy, but still participation was strong for the third annual ALS Walk held in Westville Saturday morning.

About 100 people took part in the event, said organizer Sara Watters. An early total showed that they had already raised $8,300 and they were expecting more to come in throughout the morning.

“It’s such a terrible disease. It’s a cause that needs more awareness,” she said as the event got started. She said the more she’s studied the disease, the more she’s come to know those affected.

ALS is often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease after the famous baseball player who died with it.

Joseph Allen, spoke on behalf of the ALS Society of Nova Scotia. He said he has family members who have similar type diseases and it did his heart good to see the large turnout.

He said when he first started there were only six walks in the province and now there are 12. He said Nova Scotia has more than 70 families with ALS. Research is happening to make their lives better however.

“Every dollar you guys raise here today stays in Nova Scotia – stays at Dalhousie University – directly impacting people with ALS,” he said.

Westville Mayor Roger MacKay thanked those who came out for the event.

“On behalf of the town of Westville we are very happy to be able to help out here,” he said. “Hopefully they raise a lot of funds and someday end this terrible disease.”

Pictou East MLA Tim Houston praised the efforts of the volunteers and in particular Watters.

“It’s the generosity of people like you that shows people living with ALS that they are supported and it gives them hope that the we can find a cure for this disease,” he said. “Sara is a great example of a young person seeing a need in the community and filling it. We need more Saras. We need more people who stand up for their community.”

Central Nova MP Peter MacKay also spoke at the event about the impact of ALS and the importance of the walk.


What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. People living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Eighty per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of diagnosis– unable to breathe or swallow. Ten per cent of those affected may live for 10 years or longer.

ALS has no known cure or effective treatment yet. For every person diagnosed with ALS, a person living with ALS dies. Approximately 2,500 - 3,000 Canadians currently live with this fatal disease.