The 2017 Valley Walk for ALS was held at Berwick’s Centennial Park on Sept. 24. This is the second year the apple capital has hosted the walk.
Co-ordinator Delica Filippone said the event is a fundraiser held in support of research initiatives and the ALS Society of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick’s clinical services program. It’s also intended to raise awareness of the disease.
She said more people probably recognize the disorder by another name, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS is a rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disorder or neuro-muscular disease.
Filippone said she was flattered to be asked to take over as co-ordinator. The event is very important to her as her mother-in-law, Joyce Filippone, lived with ALS for more than 12 years before passing away four years ago. The family started taking part in the Halifax walk the year after Joyce was diagnosed, calling their group “Team Rejoyce.”
“One of her big things that she spoke to me about before she had passed was that ALS was something that she held dear to her heart and she wanted to know if the family could continue somehow supporting the event,” Filippone said.
She said there are a lot of expenses that go along with ALS, especially the equipment to allow people with the disease to enjoy a good quality of life at home for as long as possible. This is one reason why it’s so important to continue supporting the fundraiser, as the ALS Society provides most of this equipment and this takes a big burden off families. The society also provides emotional support.
She said Centennial Park makes a great venue with the lawn, gazebo and lots of space to set up. There was also a yard sale, bake sale, barbecue and 50-50 draw. Filippone said everything for the event was donated and all the workers were volunteers.
Glenn Banks of Forest Glade and his team wore t-shirts that said “I’m Walking for Mom” in memory of his mother, Sylvia Banks. The shirts also feature the image of a crow on the back, because his mom loved crows.
Banks said his mother was diagnosed with ALS in November 2014 and passed away in August 2015 after developing pneumonia. He said it came as quite a shock. However, in spite of the disease, Banks said his mother kept her spirits up right to the end.
“She was a very remarkable woman really, I miss her everyday,” Banks said.
He said this is the third year the team has taken part in the walk and they intend to keep going. It’s his hope that a cure will be discovered through research efforts or that researchers will discover the cause so the disease can be effectively treated or prevented. Banks worries that ALS could someday affect him, his children or other members of his family.
Berwick Mayor Don Clarke brought greetings to the participants on behalf of the town. Piper Ed Coleman, Berwick town crier Gary Long and his wife Sara Long led the walk onto Union Street. Miss Annapolis Valley Amanda Kirkpatrick also volunteered at the event and took part in the walk.
For more information on the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia or to make an online donation, visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/als-society-of-nova-scotia/ or the society’s Facebook page.
Last year, the society loaned more than 600 pieces of equipment valued at more than $800,000 to 128 families in 66 communities.