Walk to Defeat ALS

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COLUMBIA - Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, affects 30,000 people a year.

On Saturday, Columbia residents will hit the pavement to fight the deadly disease, as the ALS Association is hosting its annual Walk to Defeat ALS at Bethel-Cosmo Park.

Patricipants will walk around the lake inside the park and have the opportunity to play games and do an ice bucket challenge.

All proceeds will benefit ALS Association services and ALS research.

Also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS is a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The disease often leads to paralysis and/or death.

"It is a horrible, horrible disease," said ALS Association Mid-America Chapter Development Director Beth Harrell. "That's what makes days like this so important, so we can help in any way we can."

The association is hosting three midwest walks Saturday, but chose Columbia as a host site because of past support.

"Donations have been coming from Columbia all day," Harrell said. "That love is there. Momentum starts slow, but when it gets close to the walk, people are signing up and registering like crazy. People are just really stepping up to come out here, support, and help."

Harrell says events like this are crucial to building a community of support for those who have the disease.

"If we get people here and they have a stronger sense of community, and a peace in their heart that they aren't alone, that's crucial. That's really important. That's really what I want people to come away from this with."

The organization is hoping to raise $30,000, which would be an improvement over last year's $25,000.

For more information, visit the ALS Association's website.