The 5th annual Walk for ALS in Boitanio Park on Saturday welcomed 117 walkers, raising approximately $20,000 to help find a cure for the disease. Organized by Eileen Campbell and Heather Robertson, the event included a silent auction, face painting, a barbeque and more, as well as live music by the Community Band, Bernadette Ducharme and Celtic Connection.
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Williams Lake resident Bill Montgomery addressed the crowd at the ALS Walk, acknowledging friends who have lost loved ones to ALS over the past few years.
“I started noticing symptoms in 2008 and was diagnosed with ALS in 2009,” he explained. “I’m still here today, still mobile: life’s pretty good.
“Along the way I have had a lot of ‘boosts’ trying to keep positive and on the up and up. These come from my super family, camping buddies, former co-workers, golfing buddies and the fire department. One of my great boosts is everybody here today.
“I have an old friend who calls me every week and ends our conversations by saying, ‘Keep smiling.’
“I thank you all very much for being here and helping out,” he concluded. “Keep smiling and take care.”
Wendy Toyer, executive director of the ALS Society of B.C., said that there are 15 ALS walks throughout the province; this was her second time in Williams Lake for the walk. “This walk is fantastic,” she said.
“Bill Montgomery is an amazing person – very reflective of many people I’ve met living with ALS. When I first met Hughie, local organizer Eileen Campbell’s husband, he was a young man struck with this disease and he was still so positive, and I think what Eileen took on running this event with Heather is phenomenal.”
She said that since joining the ALS Society she has made friends all over the province. “I’m so blessed to be part of an organization with so many incredible people,” she continued. “Think about it: why are we together? We’re together because of this horrible disease, and the fact that so much goodness can come out of a negative is truly inspiring.”
Eileen Campbell and Heather Robertson, who have helped raised over $100,000 to find a cure, have announced that they are retiring from organizing the annual ALS Walk and are asking for someone to step up for 2017. For more information about the walk, including how to get involved, visit www.alsbc.ca , phone 1-800-708-3228 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.