PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Walk to Defeat ALS kicked off at noon on this rainy Sunday at the World Trade Center Plaza.
The National ALS Association hosted walks across the country to combat the neurodegenerative disease. The ALS Association’s website says “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.”
About 15 people are diagnosed with ALS every day. For one Portland family, that diagnosis came earlier this year.
Marc’s Marathon was one of the teams in the crowd walking to defeat ALS, named after Marc Olson, who was diagnosed on February 5, 2019. He has run a total of 35 marathons in his life, and this weekend, his journey continued with his family by his side.
“I really wanted to run my first marathon with my dad—it was a dream of mine,” said Leah Olson, his daughter. “So this is my way to be able to fulfill that dream, while doing something positive for people living with ALS.”
Marc’s Marathon had more than 100 people supporting their team, and they have raised more than $36,000 for the Walk to Defeat ALS.
“We’re here to support him,” said Leah. “We have people who came up from California, from Washington, and from all over the country to support us.”
“It’s excellent,” said Marc about the team walking with him on Sunday. “They’re all the caregivers and support and help to keep our spirits up.”
Marc is currently participating in a stem cell study. His son Neil describes ALS as a terribly confusing disease.
“We don’t even really know what causes the disease, and it’s been studied for over 100 years,” said Neil. “All we really have is the hope that the medical community can develop something to help these people.”
The money generated from the walk goes toward funding treatment for ALS, with the hopes of also one day finding a cure. The Oregon and southwest Washington chapter of the ALS Association raised over 100% of their goal—a total of $377,990—from the Portland walk.