Gord Shannon has no trouble getting around.
During the early moments of the 2014 West Kootenay Walk for ALS, before the event began with a bagpipe procession along the beach, Shannon zipped through the grass in his wheelchair greeting supporters, posing for pictures and watching participants warm up with some light calisthenics.
“I was diagnosed in 1997,” Shannon told the Star in an email. “The symptoms started with my speech in 1995, so it took two years to diagnose. I am one of the lucky ones, I guess, as my rate of progression has been quite slow compared to most people with the disease.”
This year Shannon’s goal was to raise $35,000. The money raised during the event will go towards providing mobile technologies to people suffering from the same neuromuscular disease that put Shannon in his motorized wheelchair.
“Unfortunately we fell short of our goal this year, raising $22,795 with donations still to come. We will be back again next year on June 7, 2015.”
Shannon thanked all the volunteers involved in planning the event, and said he was thrilled by the beautiful weather.
“We are a volunteer-driven society and we couldn’t do it without all the effort of our planning committee as well as walk day volunteers. We had great weather and lots of fun.”
Shannon said the key to fighting ALS is keeping a positive attitude, especially since there is no known cure.
“To others, whatever treatments they try, believe that it will work or they are wasting their time. There are daily challenges that one has with this disease and not letting the inability to do what you used to doing consume you. Stay positive. It could always be worse,” he said.
Shannon said 60 per cent of the funds raised from the Walks for ALS province-wide stay here in British Columbia and go to patient services. The estimated cost to a patient and their families is approximately $137,000. He said he currently values his power recliner, walker and 4-wheel scooter that he’s loaning from ALSBC.
“They also have support for families and caregivers. The remaining 40 per cent goes to research which is leading the world in finding a cause and a cure for this disease,” he said.