The fight to defeat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been a very important cause to Penguins forward Craig Adams
, his wife Anne and their children for a few years now, and right now it means more to their family than ever.
Anne’s father Paul Cellucci, the former governor of Massachusetts and U.S. ambassador to Canada, passed away on June 8 after a lengthy battle with the devastating disease. He was 65 years old.
|Craig and Anne Adams cutting the ribbon at last year's Walk to Defeat ALS. |
Cellucci publicly revealed his diagnosis in early 2011 and spent the last years of his life doing everything he could to fundraise for the cause, ultimately raising about $2 million towards research. To honor him, Craig and Anne, his teammates, and the Pittsburgh Penguins Wives Association have also become passionate about raising ALS awareness and funds to support continued research and patient care.
“Any time you are touched closely by a disease, it just becomes that much more important to you, especially when it is something that a lot of people don’t know a whole lot about,” Adams said.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive, fatal, neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. After diagnosis, the typical life expectancy of a patient is only 2-5 years. There is currently no treatment and no cure for ALS. Every 90 minutes, someone is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes, someone loses their battle to this horrible disease.
As Christi Kolarcik, a member of the Board of Directors for the Western Pennsylvania chapter of The ALS Association, explained, “Basically, the cells that are affected are your nerve cells, in particular your motor neurons. They’re responsible for sort of talking to your muscles, telling them what to do and controlling them. So as these cells degenerate and die, you’re unable to have that communication.”
To help raise funds in the drive to find a cure, Craig and Anne will once again participate as the Honorary Co-Chairs of the Walk to Defeat ALS on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Point State Park. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the one-mile walk begins at 10 a.m.
Last year’s walk at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium was a tremendous success, with over 3,000 walkers participating. Donations made online alone reached over $3,300, and thousands more were raised during the walk.
The Adams family was overwhelmed by the support, with Anne saying, “To have this kind of support in Pittsburgh is incredible. It just feels great that there are so many people who care about this cause who are working to help find a cure.”
Many fans pledged $27, in honor of number on Adams’ sweater.
“Too bad I didn’t have a higher number,” Adams said with a smile at last year’s walk. “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.”
This is an incredibly important cause to Adams and his family, so we encourage Penguins fans to walk with him or pledge him. Fans who would like to do so can visit http://webwpawv.alsa.org/site/TR/Walks/WesternPennsylvania?px=3479168&pg=personal&fr_id=9251#.UgO_WfXqeSo.
They can donate $27 for No. 27, or any amount they can. Information about participating in the walk can be found by following that same link.
In addition to the community support, Adams also received support from his teammates and coaches at last year's walk. Penguins forward Chris Kunitz, assistant coach Tony Granato and former Pittsburgh Pirate Steve Blass all attended the event, while Penguins winger James Neal used social media to help raise awareness.
Adams and his family may be joined by his Penguins teammates and coaches again this year.
See what the walk is all about. WATCH: Pens Insider - ALS Walk
Last September, Craig Adams and his wife joined over 3,000 other walkers at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium for the "Walk to Defeat ALS."