Penguins forward Craig Adams is accustomed to battles that take place on the ice. On Saturday morning however, Adams, his wife Anne, and thousands of others took part in a fight that is much tougher than emerging out of a corner with the puck.
Along with over 3,000 walkers, the Penguin forward participated in the Walk to Defeat ALS at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, raising funds in the drive to find a cure for the deadly disease.
“It’s obviously a terrible disease, but from the people we’ve talked to, even down to the scientists that are working on a treatment, there is real optimism and real hope that we’re on the cusp of something meaningful,” Adams said. “From all accounts, it’s an exciting time to be doing stuff and it makes events like this even more important.”
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk and speak. After diagnosis, the typical life expectancy of a patient is only two to five years.
The disease affected Adams on a personal level, with his father-in-law currently suffering from the disease. His wife Anne was thrilled with the turnout, even on such a dreary day.
“To have this kind of support in Pittsburgh is incredible,” Anne said. “It just feels great that there are so many people who care about this cause who are working to help find a cure. It’s really an exciting time.”
Kevin Roth of Wexford attends the event annually with his family. Roth’s grandmother passed away due to ALS, and his uncle is currently battling the disease.
“The turnout is great,” Roth said. “It’s a lot of fun. We have a lot of relatives come in from out of town that we see once a year and it’s good to see everybody.”
Adams wasn’t the only Pittsburgh sports figure to show their support during the morning. Penguin forward Chris Kunitz, assistant coach Tony Granato, and former Pittsburgh Pirate Steve Blass all attended the event to help raise awareness.
“James Neal was tweeting about the walk last night, so it means a lot,” Adams said of the support from fellow athletes. “These guys are good friends and they’ll obviously do anything for a good cause.”
Donations made online alone have reached over $3,300, and thousands more were raised during the walk. Many fans pledged $27, in honor of the digits on Adams’ sweater.
“Too bad I didn’t have a higher number,” Adams said with a smile. “Even small amounts help and you’re talking about this walk and then nationwide as well, so we’re really raising a lot of money.”
Adams takes pride in being part of a cause that helps to find a cure for an ailment that affects so many throughout the country.
“Everyone here is making an impact,” Adams said. “The fundraising drive has been great and very successful so far, and we’re just a little piece of it, trying to help out any way we can.”