On Saturday, Sept. 17, the Golden West Chapter of the ALS Association hosted its 10th annual Walk to Defeat ALS at Kapi‘olani park.
I was joined at this fundraising event by members of the Hawai‘i Public Radio team, who raised over $1,400 in support of ALS research.
It was a beautiful day, and hundreds of participants gathered as teams to walk to defeat ALS. It was great to meet other PALS, (people with ALS), and their families, some traveling from the mainland to be at this event, and to see my wonderful neurologist Dr. Chin and meet her family.
In addition to getting to enjoy lovely hula performances, I was also gifted a quilt made by community volunteers.
Jen was particularly touched to meet Lucy Wedemeyer, widow of Charlie Wedemeyer. For those unfamiliar with their ALS story, a quick internet search will yield lots of articles about the high school football coach and math teacher who lived with ALS for more than thirty years, and two films: Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story (available on Netflix) and the award-winning PBS documentary about the Wedemeyers, One More Season.
The Golden West Chapter exceeded its fundraising goal for the walk, and is still raising funds. If you’re willing and able, you can still make a contribution in support of my team by clicking here.
I was also honored at the event with the Golden West Chapter Hero Award, which is given to an individual living with ALS who is committed to raising awareness for the ALS community and for their inspirational fight against this disease. I was asked to come on stage to accept the award and share brief remarks. During my remarks, I praised the real heroes, which for me were all the people taking time of their Saturday to walk and raise funds for ALS research, and more importantly the true heroes which are the caregivers to people like me. I gave a very special shout out to Jennifer, who every day is my hero supporting me, and loving me as my caregiver.
A big mahalo to Rex Like, AnnMarie Ingham, and Asher Garfinkel of the Golden West Chapter of the ALS Association for organizing this successful event. My thanks, too, to Doctor Chin, my neurologist, who showed up with her husband and son, and her team, to participate in the walk.
Your perma grin smile on these images and your incredible Jennifer filled my heart with overflowing bubbles of emotions this morning. You started off my day illuminating the kind of community support that makes life worthy of us being here right now to experience its full potential of joy, grace, pain and laughter. Mahalo nui loa!
How lovely that you were able to connect with Lucy Wedemeyer! I am an alumna of Los Gatos HS, and even though I graduated the year before Charlieʻs diagnosis, I followed his story over the years. He was a beloved coach and teacher!