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ALS Walk to aims to aid and inspire

| Friday, October 26, 2018

Notre Dame students, faculty, alumni and community members from the surrounding area will walk to raise awareness and monetary support for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in St. Joseph County on Saturday. The walk is sponsored by the Neuroscience Club and the Notre Dame Club of the Mid-Hudson Valley.

“ALS is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes the neurons in the central nervous system to break down, and the Neuroscience Club focuses on anything from the brain to all the neurons in your body,”  Neuroscience Club co-president and junior David Kronenberger said.

Photo courtesy of Les McCarthy

Members of the Notre Dame community participate in an ALS awareness walk on campus. The walk is sponsored by the Neuroscience Club and the Notre Dame Club of the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Sophomore Michelle Lee, Neuroscience Club member, is commissioner for the ALS walk this year.

Registration for the event starts at 8:45 a.m. inside the Jordan Hall of Science. After registration, coffee, bagels and muffins will be available prior to a short speech by Kronenberger and co-president of the Mid-Hudson Valley Club Les McCarthy. The group will head out for the walk a little before 9:45 a.m.

McCarthy and Kronenberger said registration for the event is $10 and can be completed online prior to the walk or at the event. Event t-shirts were donated by local company CN PATEL and family, and the College of Science is providing refreshments, so the whole $10 will go towards ALS patient support in St. Joseph County.

The purpose of the walk is to raise money for local PALS (patients with ALS) and caregivers, McCarthy said.

Starting at Jordan, the walk will go “through South Quad, around the lakes and then stop at the grotto for a prayer service where we will read a list of alumni and Notre Dame community members who have had ALS,” Kronenberger said.

Holy Cross priest Fr. Robert “Bob” Dowd will lead the prayer service.

“We will pray specifically for them, their families and in general for ALS patients and their caregivers,” Kronenberger said.

McCarthy and Linda Legault Quinn, class of 1984, co-presidents of the Mid-Hudson Valley Club, have acted as advisors to the Neuroscience Club for the 2018 walk as well as previous ALS walks on campus in 2015 and 2016. The Notre Dame Club of the Mid-Hudson Valley has held a walk, located on the picturesque walkway over the Hudson each year every third Sunday of October since 2009. The walk on Notre Dame’s campus complements the annual walk across the Hudson River. 

The first walk across the Hudson drew 55 participants. Almost 10 years later, the recent walk on Oct. 21 drew 2,000 participants and a large sum of donations that went towards the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, McCarthy said.

McCarthy was inspired to start the walk after losing three friends to the disease.

“When my first friend died twenty-five years ago, I knew nothing about ALS, as many people still don’t know today,” McCarthy said. “I was moved because I saw the effects, but I really didn’t do anything about [it]. I didn’t have the time then that I do today.

“Then my former classmate at Cornell died in 2006 of ALS in the prime of his life. And then, in the spring of 2009, Gus Raspitha, ‘70 Ph.D., a club member, died of ALS. And with three strikes, you have to do something. I felt it was a sign that [the walk was] exactly what we should do.”

McCarthy said others must understand “the fierce headwinds” PALS and their caregivers go through every day.

But ALS still has no cure.

Kronenberger, who does cancer research, provided insight into why he believes students should come out to the walk.

“One of the things that is unique about our university is the undergraduate research component,” he said. “ALS research is something that some students might be really interested in getting involved in but just have no idea what ALS is or don’t know how to find involvement opportunities.”

McCarthy said he was hopeful the walk would be successful. 

“The real dream would be that we inspire one of these young brilliant minds to run with the ball after finding out firsthand just how devastating this disease is,” he said.

The donations page will remain open the week following the walk.

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