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Families, friends raise funds in support of those afflicted with ALS through Walk Strong in Berwick


BERWICK, NS - They walk strong for ALS to honour family members and friends affected by the disease and to give hope to others that one day a cure will be found.

The annual ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia’s Walk Strong event was held at Berwick’s Centennial Park on Sept. 22. It was one of 10 walks taking place in communities across the two provinces.

Jennifer Kershaw of Greenwood was walking as part of Team Janet in memory of her mother, the late Janet White of Windsor. She said it’s important to her and her family members to raise funds for the ALS society, as there is no cure for the disease and they’d love to see one discovered someday.

“To come out and to walk as a family in memory of our mother was something special for us,” Kershaw said.

White was diagnosed with ALS in October 2012 and lost her battle a year later. Although her mother’s battle was short, Kershaw said the ALS society was a great support, especially through its Equipment Loan Program. She said they were also walking as a family to help give hope to others currently battling ALS.

“Hopefully by raising funds we’ll be able to help families,” she said.

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Wendy Jensen of Windsor was walking as part of the “Brake Clan” team with family members and friends in honour of her father, Harold Brake of Coldbrook, who was diagnosed with ALS just before Christmas.

She said it’s important to support the ALS society fundraiser because, in part, the money goes toward research that will hopefully one day find a cure. Jensen, her sister and mother raised $3,000 in sponsorships for the walk.

She said the ALS society has been great to her father and mother, providing mobility devices and other supports to help maintain his quality of life. For example, they’ve given him a paddle to help operate his four-wheeler. Her father, who she described as “a bit of a MacGyver”, has also built some mobility devices of his own.

“I know that he’s continuing to be who he is and I don’t want that to change,” Jensen said. “He’s a grandfather for my two kids and we want him around for as long as we can.”

ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia president Kim Carter said ALS can be a very isolating disease.

“People lose their ability to walk, talk and breath on their own, so that isolates them from the community,” Carter said. “It’s really important that people come out and show them that they’re not alone.”

She said the ALS society is a non-profit organization that doesn’t receive financial support from any level of government. They run an Equipment Loan Program and every year they lend out approximately 600 pieces of mobility, breathing, communication and other types of equipment to people living with ALS free of charge. The walks are the society’s main fundraiser.

“If we didn’t have the communities coming out and supporting us in our 10 walks across our two provinces, we’d have to shut our doors,” Carter said. “We so appreciate the people that come out and raise money for their friends and family living with ALS.”

She said it’s important for her to be involved with the society because she has a real passion for people with ALS. They are facing what perhaps many would consider the worst disease to get but they do so with grace, courage and strength. Carter said it’s a privilege to help them live their best life by loaning them equipment.

For example, seeing someone getting to use a $35,000 motorized wheelchair that they wouldn’t be able to afford on their own to wheel their daughter down the aisle on her wedding day “keeps us motivated and keeps us going.”

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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For more information on the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia or to make an online donation, visit www.alswalkstrong.ca.

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