Locals Gather to Walk to Defeat ALS

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COLUMBIA - Walkers enjoyed sunny weather to walk for a cure for Lou Gehrig's Disease Saturday afternoon.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The disease can leads to full paralysis and/or death.

Columbia's Keith Worthington chapter of the ALS Association hosted a Walk to Defeat ALS Saturday afternoon at Stephen's Lake Park. Several turned out to show their support for various teams and walk around the park.

Ashley Wilson, head of the team "Haley's Hope," walked for her sister Haley, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2007 at the age of 16 and died two years later. Since her sister's diagnosis, she has done the local Walk to Defeat ALS and worked on fundraising for the foundation.

She said that while people miss their loved ones, it's important to remember the good times as well.

"We try to have a little fun too, because that's what people would want us to do. Those that we have lost would want us to have fun on today's date."

In memory of her sister, Wilson has also created a special project for other walkers. She has teddy bears dressed in pink who work as "Flat Stanleys," for people to take around the world with them and raise awareness for ALS. The Haley Bear has been to Germany, Israel, on cruises, and even to the war in Afghanistan.

The goal this year for the walk was to raise ten thousand dollars, and regional development director Paul Blackwell said they should exceed that amount.