The 21st annual Walk to Defeat ALS, also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, held at Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh Saturday morning brought over 3,000 people together with one common goal.
To conquer this devastating disease.
With the help of the greater Pittsburgh community, Penguins forward Craig Adams and his wife Anne teamed up with the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the ALS Association to raise over $320,000 dollars to help fund research to find a cure for ALS and to help those diagnosed cope with the symptoms.
Paul Cellucci, Anne’s father, passed away on June 8 of this year after a lengthy battle with ALS. He was 65 years old.
|Craig Adams and his family attended the 21st annual Walk to Defeat ALS at Point State Park Saturday morning. |
The former governor of Massachusetts and U.S. ambassador to Canada spent his final years doing as much as he possibly could to cure ALS and help future patients conquer the destructive disease. His efforts raised over $2 million dollars to go directly towards research to find a cure for ALS.
“Today is really meaningful to me and my family. We just recently lost my dad this summer to ALS so we are really proud to honor him today at this Walk to Defeat ALS,” Anne Craig said. “I know he was proud last year when we were co-chairs and I know he is happy we are continuing the fight to find a cure for this disease.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This decreases the body’s ability to complete voluntary muscle actions. The average life expectancy of an individual with ALS is only two to five years after diagnosis.
Online donations prior to the event on the Walk to Defeat ALS website were over $320,000 dollars with day-of donations expected to push the group closer to the ultimate goal of $500,000.
“The Adams family unfortunately had their own experience with ALS,” said Merritt Spier, the Executive Director of the Western Pa. chapter of the ALS Association.
“When they became co-chairs of this event last year, the awareness of the ALS in this community just grew tenfold. While we are very sorry for their family, we are honored to have Craig and Anne represent this walk and our organization as the honorary co-chairs.”
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and forward Joe Vitale also came out to support the Adams family and take part in the one-mile walk around the fountain at Point State Park.
“I feel like we are part of a family together,” said Bylsma, when asked about the dynamics of this Penguins team. “When one person is affected, we all are. I’m not surprised at all to see the support from the other players supporting Craig and his family.”
Adams, entering his sixth season as a Penguin, echoed Bylsma’s sentiments after the walk, expressing gratitude not only for the players but also for the fans that have stepped up in the fight against ALS.
“It has been unbelievable, to be honest,” Adams said. “We have the team page you can access, and the number of people that go on there and donate whatever they can is really touching. People donate that don’t even know me or know Anne or maybe don’t have any connection to ALS but they give a little bit and it definitely adds up, and I know a lot of those people are Pens fans.”
Those donations are helping people like Michael Sullivan, a Western Pa. native currently living with ALS who took part in the walk today.
“I think more people that become aware of ALS, it gets us closer and closer to finding the causes and a cure for this horrible disease,” Sullivan said. “The support we have here today from the ALS Association gives me and others who suffer from ALS hope.”
To donate, please visit cure4ALS.org. All funds raised help support patients living with ALS in the Western Pennsylvania region.
Craig Adams, wife Anne, and children Rhys and Francesca, and Anthony Hackimer, who is currently battling ALS, cut the red ribbon to start the walk.
Head coach Dan Bylsma (center), the Pens Ice Crew and other staff showed their support in the walk.