On Sept. 22, more than 6,000 people participated in the Les Turner ALS Walk4Life at Soldier Field. The Les Turner ALS Foundation raised more than $725,000 through the event and proceeds are still being tabulated.
Hosted by meteorologist Phil Schwarz of ABC 7 and Kathy Hart of The Mix 101.9 FM, the event featured a 2.3-mile walk along Chicago's lakefront and through Soldier Field. Since its inception 11 years ago, the ALS Walk4Life has raised $8 million for medical research, a multidisciplinary clinical program, patient service programs and educational efforts for those affected by ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).
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Participants organized into 235 teams who walked in support of loved ones affected by ALS.
The event is the largest gathering of the local ALS community, and brings together people to demonstrate hope, courage and caring.
"We moved the event to a new location this year to accommodate the growing crowd, and we were thrilled with the new route and participants enjoyed having the opportunity to walk through the stadium," said Wendy Abrams, executive director, Les Turner ALS Foundation. "The ALS Walk4Life is a truly meaningful event for our patients, families and friends, and it would not be possible with the support of our volunteers, donors and corporate sponsors."
During the opening ceremony, Rick Sanchez from Team Tamo spoke about his family's experience with ALS, and encouraged people to stay strong, united and committed to finding a cure for the disease. In addition, both Schwarz and Hart shared their personal experiences of watching loved ones battle ALS.
The ALS Walk4Life was supported by individual and corporate sponsors as well around 100 on-site volunteers. Corporate sponsors include: ABC 7 Chicago, The Mix 101.9 FM, Comcast, Abt Electronics, American Chartered Bank, B&B Catering, Blick Art Materials, The Private Bank, Walgreens Home Care and Monarch.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a terminal neuromuscular disease that attacks a person's muscles, gradually robbing them of their ability to walk, speak, eat and breathe, yet usually keeping their mind intact. In the United States, someone is diagnosed every 90 minutes, and 35,000 people are living with ALS at any given time. While some symptoms are treatable, there is currently no prevention or cure.
Les Turner was a Chicago area businessman, husband and father who was diagnosed with ALS in 1976 at the age of 36. Frustrated by the lack of information and research available at the time, Les, his family and friends started the Foundation in 1977, just a year before his death. Today, the Les Turner ALS Foundation is an independent, publicly supported nonprofit organization in the Chicago area dedicated solely to treating and eliminating ALS. The foundation is affiliated with Northwestern Medicine where it funds two research laboratories and a multidisciplinary clinical program. The foundation's patient services include, support group meetings, professional in-home consultation services, communications and durable medical equipment programs, respite care grants, and educational activities.
For information about ALS, call (847) 679-3311 or visit lesturnerals.org.
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