Do you know what ALS stands for? According to The ALS Association, "Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as 'Lou Gehrig's Disease,' is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed."
With a definition like that, it seems surprising that so few know about the debilitating and life-threatening disease, and while it is not a very common disease, seeing the turnout at the 2013 Walk to Defeat ALS provided a somber glance into the many lives this sickness affects. The event, held on Saturday, September 5 at City Park turned out more than 1700 walkers and raised about $285,000 according to the Rocky Mountain Chapter of The ALS Association. The money raised will go directly to support care services for those with ALS, and research and public policy efforts at the federal, state and local levels. Along with raising a whole lot of money, walkers honored those who have lost their lives to ALS by wearing signs on their backs with the names of their loved ones lost--a touching but sometimes heart wrenching gesture. A marching band came to send the walkers off at the starting line, and participants were rewarded with cheese burgers at the end. All in all, it was a beautiful day and though it was bittersweet, it was sweet nonetheless. If you would like to learn more about how you can contribute to the ALS Association or participate in 2014, you can learn more here.