September 28, 2015
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is more than a cause remembered best by dumping a bucket of water over your head or grainy footage and newspaper clippings of New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig.
It's a crippling disease that takes life away from a person before causing death.
The second annual ALS Steps for Hope is a chance to honor loved ones who suffer from the disease, remember those who lost their battles and raise funds for research that one day will lead to a cure.
The public is invited to join ALS Steps for Hope on Oct. 3, for a one-mile walk through Wildwood Park and Zoo, Marshfield. Register at https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/giving/running-cycling-events/als-steps-for-hope-registration or 10 a.m. Oct. 3 prior to the walk.
A short program begins at 11 a.m. followed by a walk at 11:30 a.m. At noon, a picnic lunch/social with door prizes and raffle winners will be announced.
Cost is $20 for adults and children eight years and older. Registration includes a T-shirt, lunch and a chance for door prizes. Children under eight are free.
There is no cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. As motor neurons – the nerve cells that help control muscles – die in a person diagnosed with ALS, muscle control is lost. Those in later stages of the disease might become paralyzed, and ALS ultimately leads to death.
Darrin and Lynn Braun, and Gary and Edie Braun held the first ALS Steps for Hope last year in honor of John Braun of Marshfield, who lost his battle with ALS in February 2014. John Braun is Darrin's father and Gary's brother.
Last year's event, which originally was planned as a family event, drew more than 300 people and raised $6,300 for ALS research at Marshfield Clinic. The Brauns said they met people who heard about the event at the last minute and decided to show up because their lives were touched by ALS.
"Once you get involved in the ALS community you find how many people are affected by this terrible disease," Lynn Braun said. "Even with our small event, every dollar raised makes a difference."
The entire Braun family is excited about this event and will continue to host it as a family.
Braun family members have been subjects of ALS research through Marshfield Clinic for more than five years. Neurology specialist Dr. Jaime Boero, who leads ALS research at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, looks at genomes of family members to find the change in the DNA that causes motor neurons to die.
"The Braun family has a slowly progressive form of ALS, but by conducting large-scale sequencing of the DNA and finding the mechanism that causes motor neurons to die, we can find the specific cause of ALS in them as well as understand how to slow ALS in other families," Boero said.