SHADY HILLS — Running, walking and biking are common exercises that many people do for multiple miles on a weekly, or even daily, basis.
On the first day of December, over 100 people did these exercises to support people living with a neurological disease that affects the muscles needed to do those same movements.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurological disease that can damage nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscles. According to research, every 90 minutes, a person is diagnosed with the ALS and every 90 minutes, a person dies from it.
On Dec. 1, the Ride. Run. Roll to Defeat ALS was held at Crews Lake Wilderness Park. The ALS Association Florida Chapter staged the endurance run for the ninth year.
The options for participants were a 5K run, walk, or roll, a 25-mile ride and a 62-mile ride, called the Metric Country Ride.
Kate Sanstrom, the senior development manager, hopes that the event will show people the importance of supporting services and funding for ALS.
“Through care, advocacy, research, education, and support we work to empower those with ALS,” Sanstrom said. “The Ride. Run. Roll to Defeat ALS helps support our mission and fund the services we provide and to show people living with ALS that they are not alone in their fight, their community supports them.”
She also likes how these events bring together people that can relate to one another.
“I’ve learned the importance of our community events. In particular, at this event, two participants, both living with ALS, were able to connect and exchange contact information so they could stay in touch. These two people live in different areas but can stay in touch along their journey and rely on each other for support and friendship,” Sanstrom said. “These connections are invaluable to people battling this terrible disease.”
In total, the event had 115 participants and 175 attendees.
One of the participants this year, Rory Strum of Team 3G CFAC, traveled from Texas to participate in the event. Despite being the sixth member of his family to be diagnosed with ALS, he was still determined to stay active.
“I’m still healthy everywhere but my tongue, vocal chords, and now a little effect on my lungs, so I was still running 3 to 5 miles, two to three days a week after my diagnosis in March,” said Strum in a press release. “I’m still fairly new to cycling but the love for working out and the outdoors is why I do it. We care about my journey dealing with ALS and all the others affected and how The ALS Association helps greatly and in so many ways.”
Leading up to the event, his team has raised nearly $6,000 to fight ALS. His sister, Dawn Eckhart, participated right alongside him at the event.
As of press time, more than $140,000 has been raised out of the $200,000 goal. The top fundraising teams are Ride Operations Team, $38,060, Pay It Forward, $30,370, and Team Ohana, $14,755.
The top fundraisers are Gary Dassatti, $30,339, Warren Nelson, $14,755, and Drew Forness, $10,660.
After the endurance run, there was also vendors, a DJ, a barbecue lunch and prize drawings.
The ALS Association Florida Chapter provides care and support for ALS patients, as well as fund research to find the cause and cure of the fatal disease.