East County News Service
October 11, 2021 (San Diego) -- The ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter will present its 2021 Walk to Defeat ALS, the nonprofit’s 21st annual fundraising walk, on Sunday, Oct. 17 as a virtual fundraiser. The fundraiser is free and open to the public. Registration is now open. Information is available at www.ALSwalkSD.com.
Proceeds will benefit the chapter’s programs, services and services provided to local families living with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive neurological disease that attacks nerve cells controlling muscles throughout the body.
For the second time in as many years, the Walk to Defeat ALS will be held as a virtual event. The theme for the 2021 Walk to Defeat ALS 2021 is “Walk Your Way,” which refers to the many different ways supporters can participate walk virtually or in their own neighborhoods while still raising money for a cure, according to Steve Becvar, executive director, ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter.
“Since last year’s walk, we have worked tirelessly to bring our ALS community together and return to an in-person event in a single location,” Becvar said. For nearly two decades, the event was held at Mission Bay’s De Anza Cove area, a public waterfront city park.
“However, the pandemic and the surge of the delta variant presented unexpected and insurmountable challenges and it became apparent we would not be able to deliver the kind of experience our ALS community has come to expect or that meets the high standards we set for ourselves,” said Becvar.
“Multiple factors went into this decision to repeat this year’s walk as a virtual fundraiser, including a commitment to put first the health and safety concerns and the well-being of our supporters as a top priority,” Becvar continued. “We decided not to move forward with an event that delivers anything less than the excellence our ALS community has come to expect and deserves from our chapter.”
Becvar said the 2021 fundraising goal is $350,000, and a minimum donation of $90 is required to qualify for a walk t-shirt. In 2020, the first-ever virtual Walk to Defeat ALS raised $325,000 in donations, an amount which met the event goal.
“We’re encouraging our 2,000 regular attendees to choose their own way to walk, whether it’s a stroll in their neighborhoods, at a park or beach or mountain hike, or even on a treadmill,” said Becvar. “Again this year, choose when and where you want to walk on event day, anywhere you will be safe and comfortable with friends, families, colleagues or neighbors. Without geographical or time restrictions, the potential is there to involve more people than ever before.”
Becvar said some supporters are planning creative ways to participate in the 2021 Walk to Defeat ALS, including planning a scavenger hunt for their fellow walkers, drawing messages on neighborhood sidewalks with colored chalk, decorating a car with balloons and streamers and driving around town and posting their walk photos and videos of activities on social media channels using the hashtag #SanDiegoWalktoDefeatALS.
Meanwhile, other supporters, said Becvar, are planning to visit the familiar De Anza Cove location and informally join hundreds of fellow San Diegans who choose the popular Mission Bay scenic route for their regular Sunday morning stroll, jog or bicycle ride.
“We’re excited to hear about hundreds of mini-walks that will happen simultaneously on Oct. 17 throughout San Diego County,” Becvar said. “We are committed to do our best because we want a cure and support the individuals, families and caregivers affected by ALS.”
Medical expenses associated with ALS, including medical equipment, programs and services, can cost up to $250,000 annually, depleting families’ life savings. All services for patients and families are provided by the ALS Chapter at no charge. In addition, the Chapter currently maintains 2,500 square feet of storage space to house ALS equipment that includes scooters, power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment provided to ALS patients and families at no charge. Currently, ALS officials said approximately 200 San Diego and Imperial county residents are registered with the local ALS chapter.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in people living with ALS weakens muscles and impacts physical function. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which usually leads to total paralysis. Life expectancy for a person with ALS is within two to five years of diagnosis of initial symptoms. There is no cure, cause or no life-prolonging treatments for the disease.
The ALS Association is the only national not-for-profit voluntary health organization dedicated solely to fighting against ALS on every front through research, public policy and care services. The mission of the ALS Association is to find a cure for and improve the lives of people living with ALS. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, the ALS Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure.
The Greater San Diego Chapter, chartered in February 2013, is one of 39 chapters nationwide. The San Diego chapter works closely with the ALS San Diego Clinic at the University of California San Diego, which has been certified as a Center of Excellence by the national ALS organization. For more information about the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter, visit www.ALSwalkSD.com.