PEORIA, Ill. — It’s known for the ice bucket challenge, and being Lou Gehrig’s disease, but for many in Peoria on Saturday, ALS affects them or their families daily.
The annual Walk to Defeat ALS raises money for local programs and services.
“Everybody is a hero in the fight against ALS,” said program director Kendra Albers.
Hundreds in began their walk, and ended it, at Dozer Park.
“We have a lot of people here that are with ALS, living with ALS, but we also have a lot of families that are coming to remember that loved one that has passed away from ALS,” said Albers.
This year, the walk shows not every hero wears a cape.
“The heroes for me are, one the caregivers, the people that support the individuals with the disease, it’s the doctors, the clinics, that are trying to make a difference, the researchers that are trying to find a cure,” said Ed Rapp, who was diagnosed in 2015.
Family, friends, and those living with ALS say the support they receive makes a huge difference.
“The idea that people can come out today, support a great cause, and have those funds go to help families here that are dealing with the challenges of this disease, is just a cause that I’m willing to engage in,” said Rapp.
The money raised will stay local, helping patients here in central Illinois.
“The entire community is behind them. When they come here, you know, you kinda feel isolated, because ALS is a very isolating disease, but when you see so many other people that are here, living with it, or that have experienced it, it really feels like a family,” said Albers.
At the walk, the support shown is undeniable.
“Yeah they call it an ALS walk, but it’s a family reunion,” said Rapp.
The Peoria walk is coordinated by the ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter.