On September 22, 2013, approximately 6,500 people participated in the 12th Annual Les Turner ALS Walk for Life. As one of the largest gatherings of the ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) community, the ALS Walk for Life is a celebration of hope, courage and caring. The fun-filled event was hosted by meteorologist Phil Schwarz of ABC7 and Kathy Hart of The Mix 101.9FM and featured a 2 mile walk along Chicago's lakefront and through Soldier Field, as well as music, entertainment, food and children's activities. To date, the event has raised more than $825,000 for medical research, patient services and educational programs.
Friends and families walked in teams honoring the lives and legacies of loved ones who have been affected by ALS. Nearly 230 teams, some of which were as large as 180 people, included individuals from the Chicagoland area and well beyond.
Mayor Emanuel proclaimed September 22, 2013 to be Les Turner ALS Walk for Life Awareness Day in Chicago. As part of this proclamation, Chicagoans were encouraged to recognize the devastating effects of this disease and to join the ALS community in their enduring efforts to discover an effective treatment and cure.
"The Walk for Life is an exciting and emotionally-charged event that unifies the ALS community in one clear mission of making a difference to those affected by ALS," said Wendy Abrams, executive director of the Les Turner ALS Foundation. "I am proud to see this event continues to grow and become a truly memorable experience for patients, families, donors, sponsors, honorary hosts, staff and vendors. In addition to being such a remarkable day, the event raises a significant amount of money that is allocated to our wide range of programs."
During the opening ceremony, the Les Turner ALS Foundation unveiled their new Walk for Life logo. Also, RJ Simonds, Jr. delivered emotional remarks on behalf of his father Bob Simonds, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2009 and is no longer able to speak. The Bob Simonds Team served as the Family Chair for the 2013 ALS Walk for Life, inspiring and motivating other teams in the months leading up to the event. To date, the Simonds' team has collected $57,000 in donations.
ALS Walk for Life sponsors include: ABC7 Chicago, The MIX 101.9FM, Abt, American Chartered Bank, B&B Catering, Blick Art Materials, Comcast, Corner Bakery, The Private Bank, Stabil, Walgreens Home Care, and US Foods.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), 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. At any given time, approximately 35,000 people in the United States are living with ALS. Currently there is no cure.
Founded in 1977, the Les Turner ALS Foundation is one of the nation's preeminent organizations dedicated to the treatment and elimination of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The Foundation is affiliated with Northwestern Medicine where it funds two research laboratories and a multi-disciplinary 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. The Foundation serves approximately 90 percent of the ALS population in the Chicago area.
For more information, call 847-679-3311 or visit www.lesturnerals.org.