As the ALS 5K awareness site says, ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral
Sclerosis, sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is "a
progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in
the brain and the spinal cord." Though it does not affect the mind,
the patients are eventually paralyzed and often only survive three
to five years after diagnosis. There is no cure for ALS and
according to the ALS Association, the disease affects as many as
30,000 Americans at any given time.
Events like the run/walk help raise both awareness and funds for
research. The Les Turner Foundation, which receives some of the
funds from the event, is a leading researcher of ALS.
Several Logan County residents have lost their lives to the disease,
and many of their family members participate in the event as a way
to honor their memory.
Former Emden resident Dale Olson died from ALS in July 2016, so the
event has even more significance for some this year. Olson was just
diagnosed in 2015 and was able to participate in last year's event.
The event brings out people from around the county and between race
participants and supporters who cheer on the racers, bid on auction
items, or join in the afternoon bags tournament, the number adds up
to more than the population of Emden. It is also an event for all
ages, with the race participants between eight months old and over
eighty years old.
A record was broken again this year, as Jesse Golden came in at 17
minutes 13 seconds, beating last year's record of just over 18
Once the morning race ended, events continued throughout the day
with a silent auction, 50/50 drawing, raffle, poker run, and bags
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Longtime Emden resident Lulabelle Barry has
participated as a walker in the race the last few years. Barry
said, "It is a worthwhile cause. I wish they could find a cure
for ALS. It has hit several in the community."
Jim Lindgren attends church in Emden and knows the Lessen family
and has seen how the disease affects families. Alan Lessen died
of ALS many years ago and his family has helped organize the
event since the beginning. Lindgren, one of the top runners in
the 60 and over category, said, " I am glad I can still do it."
The event raised almost $85,000 in its first four years with the
support of Emden and nearby communities. With the number of
people involved each year, the amount of funds raised continues
to increase, and the financial support helps fund research that
will hopefully bring researchers closer to someday finding a
cure for this devastating disease.