Inaugural Walk to Defeat ALS honors Dean of Libraries

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Inaugural Walk to Defeat ALS honors Dean of Libraries

Cameron Stuart, News Reporter

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In honor of Dean of Libraries Dane Ward, App State is hosting a walk on March 30 to combat Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a neurodegenerative disease in which nerves stop communicating with muscles.

“My first symptoms occurred around March or April of 2017,” Ward said. “My left leg was just not lifting properly.”

Ward said he thought he was suffering from an old football injury, but after not doing anything about it, he start using a cane, then a rolling walker, and now uses a wheelchair.

Ward became the Dean of Libraries in August 2017 and was diagnosed with ALS in October 2017.

Ward said he is beginning to lose motor functions in his arms and legs, though he is not in any pain.

“Everything is much more immediate for me. I have to do things that I really wanted to do that matter,” Ward said. “It really makes you think about what’s important, what your priorities are in life.”

There is no cure for ALS and 5,600 people are diagnosed every year, according to the ALS Association.

The Walk to Defeat ALS will raise money for research and educate people on the rare disease, Dean of Health Sciences Marie Huff said.

Huff said of the event’s $25,000 goal, $26,056 has been raised as of March 24.

Ward said he did not have much, if any, awareness about the disease before he was diagnosed.

Since his diagnosis, Ward said he has noticed people enthusiastically raising money and awareness for ALS in social movements.

“My wish is that somehow ALS becomes incorporated into teaching, learning and research on campus,” Ward said. “I would love for the campus as a whole to get behind the movement.”

Ward said he also hopes the walk becomes an annual event.

“These kinds of events not only address a great cause, but they’re bonding experiences,” Huff said. “It brings people together, gives people a sense of pride about being part of the university or part of a team and doing something to make other people’s lives better.”

Huff said she hopes to involve more people in this event in the future.

“Going forward, we hope that more people are inspired by the event, that more people are educated about ALS, more people are continuing to support the organization and research towards finding a cure,” Huff said.

The App State Walk to Defeat ALS will take place at 10 a.m. on March 30 at the Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences.

Donations can be made at webnc.alsa.org.