Hundreds hope to help find a cure for ALS — one step at a time

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2023 Walk to Defeat ALS

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 500 people walked Saturday on the campus of UNF to raise money to find a cure for ALS.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disorder that affects how the nerves and muscles work. It robs people of the ability to move and ultimately breathe, proving deadly.

Dr. Dale Schrum has been battling this deadly disorder for a year and a half with his wife, Dr. Stefanie Schrum, standing by his side.

“Faith, family, and friends. That is what matters. That is made all the difference in the world in my life,” Dale Schrum said.

“He amazes me every day, because even though he has extreme physical disability, his emotional and spiritual strength are amazing,” Stephanie Schrum said. “He has a positive outlook, and that just makes it so much easier for all of us to take care of him.”

Saturday the Schrums joined hundreds of others at UNF walking with a purpose — some to honor those already lost to ALS.

Like beloved News4JAX executive producer Sharon Siegel-Cohen, who passed away in 2020. Several of her former co-workers kept her memory alive at the walk Saturday, including Steve Patrick.

Many of the team had worked with her early in her 32-year career at WJXT.

“She was just a close friend, but even more so, she was the best co-worker you ever could have wanted it,” said Patrick, who has now retired from News4JAX.

Another being honored was Assistant Chief Jimmy Judge, who worked for more than 30 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Judge died from ALS in January of this year.

Sarah Taylor was part of a support group as a tribute to him.

“He was one of the most positive people when he was diagnosed. He did not let it stop him,” Taylor said. “His doctors told him to stop working out. He did not stop it. I think that made his life longer for more people to enjoy him, and enjoy his personality, his leadership.”

JSO Assistant Chief Jimmy Judge (Provided to WJXT)

And there is hope.

According to the ALS Association, a new treatment called RELYVRIO has been shown to slow down the effects of the disease and can extend life between six and 10 months.

And when you’re in a fight where every breath matters, those months can feel like a lifetime.

Ray Carson, president and CEO of the ALS Association Florida Chapter, believes there needs to be more effort for ALS.

“ALS deserves the same kind of focus that cancer and heart disease and diabetes (receive),” he said. “Until we get that progress, we have to keep on coming out here and we have to depend on communities like Jacksonville.”

The ALS Association has a goal to raise $275,000 with Saturday’s walk. It’s more than halfway to that goal. Even if you did not get to the walk Saturday, you have six weeks to keep donating.

Learn more at the event website.

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