The University of La Verne hosted the annual Walk to Defeat ALS with an estimated 1,200 walkers Sunday.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a debilitative disease that causes muscle weakness and the gradual loss of motor skills over several years.
“It’s a very tough disease, you lose your motor skills and it hits you so quick and there’s no recovery so once you get it, it’s sort of like a life sentence,” said senior Phi Delta Theta member Michael Wahba.
“So we just want to raise money and bring awareness of it to La Verne.”
ALS, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was brought to international and national attention after former Yankees baseball legend, Lou Gehrig, retired immediately after being diagnosed with the disease.
This weekend, 66 teams walked to support family members, friends and co-workers that have been affected by ALS.
“Our fundraising goal this year was $100,000 and as of right now we’re at $99,000 and that doesn’t include any of the money that was turned in today,” said walk coordinator Jamie Aronson on Sunday morning. “So I think we will make it past our goal which is amazing.”
This year, the money raised surpassed last year’s, $93,000 raised, Aronson said.
By Monday night, a total of over $102,075 was raised and will be donated to help fund research for finding a cure.
Of the 66 total teams, Team Coan and Jules’ Angels were ranked as the highest fundraising teams, with Team Coan raising a total of $15,490 and Jules’ Angels raising $14,084.
Team Coan captain Cheryl Clarke explained that her team was walking in support of her husband Jeff Coan who was diagnosed with ALS in June of the previous year.
“He used to be an off road racer, and we still have a team but he just cant race anymore, obviously,” said Cheryl Clarke San Dimas resident and Team Coan captain.
“We’ll have to start on wheel chair racing soon, we’ll be some bad asses doing that,” joked Clarke.
Jules’ Angels team captain Julianne Angel was diagnosed with ALS in 2008 and has participated in the walk every year since.
Phi Delta Theta member Michael Wahba made a deal that included walking part of the route in high heels if he raised at least $500 by Sunday.
“It was really great because it started sort of a competition within the group,” Wahba said.
“Everyone has a mission, everyone has their own philanthropy, I guess, and this is ours and every year we just want to keep making sure that we keep spreading it to people so that they are aware of it,” said senior Phi Delta Theta member Mason Sustayta.
“It’s important because it takes people’s lives, it takes people’s abilities and if we can cure it we can help.”
Kat Simonelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.