The Les Turner ALS Foundation had about 7,000 people on more than 200 teams support those affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the Les Turner ALS Walk for Life, held Sept. 18 in Chicago.
The Les Turner ALS Foundation was founded in 1977 to support research, patient care, and education about ALS, a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease that affects a person’s muscles, gradually damaging their ability to walk, speak, eat, and breathe. Every 90 minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with ALS. There are still no known treatments or a cure for ALS.
The Walk for Life has already raised $800,000 and is on track to reach $1 million (the time to donate ends Dec. 31) this year. Now in its 15th year, the Walk for Life event series has raised over $11 million, allowing the Les Turner ALS Foundation to continue to expand and offer help and hope to the community.
The fundraiser also supports the Les Turner ALS Research and Patient Center at Northwestern Medicine, where ALS patients are seen by a multi-disciplinary, specialized clinical staff ensuring that no part of their disease goes unseen or untreated. The center supports three fully functioning research laboratories, each working exclusively to find a cure for ALS.
“The ALS Walk for Life is a truly special event, as it presents a chance for those touched by ALS to celebrate hope, community, and caring, and also raise critical funds for our research, patient service programs, and educational activities here in Illinois,” Andrea Pauls Beckman, executive director of the Les Turner ALS Foundation, said in a press release.
Hosting the event was meteorologist Phil Schwartz of ABC7 Chicago and Kathy Hart of 101.9 FM. Walk for Life featured a two-mile walk along Chicago’s lakefront and through Soldier Field, as well as entertainment, children’s activities, and an arts center.
The Toole family of Elmhurst, who served as the 2016 team chairs, were recognized during the opening ceremony, and Matt Toole, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2013, delivered an emotional speech about the family’s experience with the disease and how important it was for them to remain dedicated to the cause.
The ALS Walk for Life sponsors include Cytokinetics, The MIX 101.9 FM, ABC7 Chicago and Comcast, among others.