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ALS walk comes to Orange

By Dawn Burleigh

Last year one of Orange’s own was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Over 100 persons from Orange joined Team Dallas to walk to honor Tony Dallas and to bring awareness to the disease.

This year, due to COVID-19., the annual walk is being relocated to neighborhoods throughout the country and Team Dallas is organizing a walk here for 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 at the Riverfront Boardwalk in downtown Orange. The walk will be three miles but will also offer a shorter version for those unable to walk as far.

“For the first time, the ALS walk will be hosted in Orange,” Leigh Ann Dallas said during a Rotary meeting on Tuesday. She was the guest speaker at the Orange Rotary Zoom meeting.

Dallas added the first her and her siblings heard of ALS was on August 5, 2019 when her parents told them about it.

“Dad was diagnosed last July,” Dallas said. “August is when they told the family. We immediately knew we wanted to do something to help. While it may not benefit Dad, it may benefit someone else.”

The disease was identified in 1869 by the French neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot but became more widely known internationally in 1939 when it ended the career of one of baseball’s most beloved players, Lou Gehrig. For many years following, ALS was commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, according to als.org.

“Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with ALS,” Dallas said. “Every 90 minutes someone losses the battles.”

She added that athletes, former athletes and veterans are more prone to be diagnosed with it.

“Dad never wanted it to be about him,” Dallas said. “We told a couple of friends what we were going to do and they told a couple of friends.”

In a matter of a couple of weeks, Team Dallas grew to over 100 people and raised approximately $9,500. This year, the team selected $13,000 as their goal to honor Tony Dallas as his high school team number was 13. He was also the Orange Leader Baseball Athlete of the Year in 1984.

Upon reaching that goal, the team raised it to $20,000.

“Because of the year 2020,” Dallas said.

With the funds already at 97% of that goal, she said most likely her dad would select the next number.

“It is difficult because how much is too much to ask and what is not enough,” Dallas said.

To participate in a walk is not dependent on joining Team Dallas.

“There are a few in Orange County interested in having their own team,” Dallas said. “Going to the website will help show you how and give you a fundraiser page of your own.”

Dallas added the cost to a family with a person with ALS is approximately a half a million dollars a year to cover treatments and medication.

To follow Team Dallas, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/260232685280018/

For more information on ALS or how to participate in this year’s walk, visit https://www.als.org/