HIGHLAND – More than 1,500 Hudson Valley residents walked together on the Walkway Over the Hudson Sunday for a common cause: to support those with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and their families and to find a cure for the deadly disease.
A record 92 fundraising teams turned out on a chilly but sunny morning, raising more than $150,000 at the Fifth Annual Walk to Defeat ALS in the Hudson Valley. The event was sponsored by The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter and the Notre Dame Club of the Hudson Valley. Organizers say the final total amount raised at the event won’t be known until all recent donations are tallied.
The Notre Dame Club launched the first walk in 2009 in honor of a club member, Gus Raspitha, who had died of ALS earlier that year. Club member Les McCarthy, co-chair of this year’s event, said he was "overwhelmed" by the support mid-Hudson Valley residents have shown for ALS patients over the past four years.
"Since the first walk took place, critical services have become available to our ALS patients and their caregivers, including a patient/nurse coordinator, an equipment loan program, a support group and transportation to and from ALS clinics in the metropolitan New York area. And soon a local social worker will be added to the staff, all at no cost to the patients," McCarthy said. "Our hat is off to our Hudson Valley neighbors for their unending support."
Dorine Gordon, President & CEO of The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, said the event not only raises funds for research and support for local families but also public awareness about the disease.
"It’s so important for families to know they’re not alone, that there is a community here that is providing vital services for ALS patients," Gordon said. "This event grows every year, and it sends an important message, not only to the ALS families but to ALS Association staff who are doing such a wonderful job supporting those families."
Gordon said the money raised at Sunday’s event would enable the ALS Association to add a full-time social worker for Hudson Valley ALS families.
Lagrangeville resident Anne Senchack attended the event with 20 of his family members and friends in honor of her mother, Josephine Fogarty, who died of ALS in July of 2012.
"We’re here to honor Mom but also to support all the other families who are going through this," Senchack said.
Samantha Myle, of Wappingers Falls, said she had been walking every year for the past eight years in memory of her father, Arnold Lamberg, who died 21 years ago.
"We went all the way to Yonkers for the walks before they started one here, and we’ve been at all five walks over the Walkway," Myle said. "It’s important to support all the families, and it’s amazing to watch it get bigger every year."
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive, fatal, neuromuscular disease that affects nerve cells and the brain and spinal cord. To learn more about the disease and how to help patients and their families, visit The ALS Association Greater New York chapter website at www.als-ny.org or call 212-619-1400.