Marie Birkbeck

In cities and towns around the globe on an almost weekly basis people are walking or running for a cause, raising awareness and much needed funding for research and hopefully one day a cure for the many devastating and debilitating and often fatal diseases that attack our bodies.

On Sunday June 4 three groups in Valemount are joining forces to walk, create awareness of and raise funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Scleroderma, and Arthritis.

ALS is a rapidly progressive, fatal condition that attacks the brain and the spinal cord, gradually leaving muscles paralyzed and patients unable to move, eat, or speak. It can strike any adult at any time. It appears suddenly and often becomes apparent in the legs, arms, throat and upper chest. Symptoms may include tripping and falling for no reason, weakness in the hands and the arms, difficulty in swallowing, and a sudden inexplicable slurring of speech. ALS knows no boundaries; it can strike people of all ages, ethnicity and social strata. Less than 10% of ALS cases are linked to genes, but what causes ALS is for the most part unknown, and there is no cure. Sponsorship and pledge forms are available at A Cut Above or call Sherry Tinsley at 250-566-9178.

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease meaning hard skin, and is a progressive disease of the vascular and immune system. Scleroderma is both life altering and life threatening and affects a small percentage of the population, primarily women, but also touches children and men. There are approximately 16,000 people in Canada affected by the disease. Teressa Colosimo is heading up this portion of the walk and has pledge and sponsorship forms available at 250-566-4172.

Arthritis refers to more than 100 related conditions affecting people’s joints, and affects the lives of nearly 4.6 million Canadians over the age of fifteen. There is also no cure for arthritis.  Normally the walks are held in larger cities, but The Arthritis Society has recently created a Virtual Walk which allows people to participate and fundraise for the cause and receive participant benefits without having to travel to the larger centres. Valemount’s Arthritis team “Jailhouse Joints” headed up by Marie Birkbeck will be doing the Virtual Walk. For sponsorship and pledge forms for Walk to Fight Arthritis please call 250-566-0061.

All groups will meet at Centennial Park on Sunday June 4 at 10:00 a.m. where participants can register and receive their T-Shirts. The six-kilometer walk will commence at 11:00 a.m. winding through Valemount and finishing up back at the park where there will be a post event BBQ, raffles and other activities for walkers and the community at large, with all proceeds being divided equally between the three causes.

Although our groups may be small in size, we’re huge in heart, working to assist those suffering with the disease by increasing awareness, educating patients and their families and raising funds for research and patient care.

Please come out and join the Walk for Causes! Together we can make a difference.