Thousands Participate In 24th Annual Walk To Defeat ALS

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Every 90 minutes, someone is diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

It’s a devastating and debilitating disease, but people in Pittsburgh are on a mission to change that staggering statistic.

This weekend, roughly 2,000 people packed into Point State Park for the 24th Annual Walk to Defeat ALS.

“The walk actually now is a national event that happens all across the nation, but in 1992, the very first walk happened right here in Pittsburgh,” Merritt Spier, executive director or the ALS Association of Western Pennsylvania, said.

“I hope that people will realize that this a disease that still needs a lot of research,” walk participant Kim Fleming said.

The ALS Association of Western Pennsylvania sponsors the walk, which raises about 58 percent of the group’s operating budget.

Those funds go toward providing free services to people dealing with ALS, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Many Pittsburghers take part in the walk every year in honor of lost loved ones.

“We love John, we miss him, and it’s a horrible disease. We want to support others who have this disease,” Jeanne Kiss said.

Many hope awareness and continued research will lead to a cure.

Meanwhile, several companies continue to work on technology to help make life more comfortable for ALS patients.

For example, Tobii Dynavox devices help struggling patients communicate.

“The technology we have has really enabled people to do some absolutely fantastic things, we have people who have written novels, we have people that use our devices to direct films,” Tony Pavlik said.

For more information about the ALS Association of Western Pennsylvania, visit their website here.

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