Hundreds show support at Parade of Hope for those battling ALS

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – ALS is a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles and tends to strike people between the age of 40 and 70.

Saturday morning, hundreds in the Jacksonville-area community did what they could to strike back at ALS by taking part in the ALS Parade of Hope, which took the place of the annual Walk to Defeat ALS this year.

“It’s a terrible disease to watch someone wither away the way it does because they literally suffocate, and it was awful to experience, so we come out here every year to advocate to make sure people know what ALS is about and to raise money to help people who are currently going through that condition,” said Kelly Sundberg, who participated Saturday with Larry’s Leprechauns.

Kelly Sunberg said her father was a huge Notre Dame fan, so the Larry’s Leprechauns team name is to honor both him and the Fighting Irish. (WJXT/Steve Patrick)

Sunberg was with her family honoring her father, Larry, who was diagnosed in 2014 with the disease and passed a year later at the age of 72.

“It’s huge to have that kind of support and to be able to support people and to be a part of it and to help people who need the help,” said Sunberg.

Sunberg said her father was a huge Notre Dame fan, so the Larry’s Leprechauns team name is to honor both him and the Fighting Irish.

“He fought really hard, so we’re all Larry’s Leprechauns,” she said.

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The Walk to Defeat ALS is the No. 1 way to unite and fundraise for those living with ALS. Each year, fundraising through the walk drives innovation as people march together toward a cure for ALS.

Hundreds gathered to take part by decorating cars, trucks and floats to honor their loved ones and raising money to find a cure.

“Today, we were honoring Judy Boitet,” said Kassady Brinson, with Doctors Lake Family Dental. “We’re also honoring my fiancé's uncle, who passed from ALS, Tim Labuda.”

Brinson and her group gave it their all to decorate their float.

“We can’t wait for them to find a cure for it so it just means a ton to us and everybody here,” said Brinson.

The News4Jax team was also there. Anchor Melanie Lawson emceed the parade. Our team continues to honor and keep executive producer Sharon Siegel-Cohen’s memory alive. Sharon passed away one year ago from ALS at the age of 62.

Anchor Melanie Lawson emceed the parade as News4Jax continues to honor the memory of beloved executive producer Sharon Siegel-Cohen. (WJXT/Steve Patrick)

Approximately 5,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year -- that’s more than 13 new cases a day. It’s estimated there are more than 20,000 Americans living with it at any given time.

We need your support to change the statistics. To bring help and hope to those living with the disease. The key to a cure begins with you.

You can still donate to the event. Click here for more information.


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