The first ever Walk to Defeat ALS happened here in Pittsburgh in 1993 thanks to two dedicated volunteers, Rita Hirschfield and Bob Kelley. 20 years ago, The National ALS Association officially adopted the Walk to Defeat ALS program making it a signature event nationwide. What started locally spread across the country and grew in size and scope to over 170 events, and in 2019 raised over $26 million dollars.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter’s 28th annual Pittsburgh Walk to Defeat ALS®, presented by the Mascaro Family Foundation will look a bit different than usual. However, the mission is still the same, to UNLOCK a cure for ALS! Therefore, the Association has provided walkers with the tools to host their own mini Walk to Defeat ALS® from home. Registered teams will receive a Walk Kit full of supplies and a link to participate in the opening ceremonies, streamed live on the Chapter’s Facebook and YouTube at 10am on Saturday, September 12th.
“The event was never about the way we walked, it’s about the important funds and awareness that comes from the event’, said Executive Director, Ryan Reczek. ‘That is why we couldn’t cancel. The ALS community is relying on this funding.”
Meet three Pittsburgh Walk to Defeat ALS® teams that have embraced this year’s “Walk Where You Are” theme and planned their very own mini-walk celebrations!
Meet Captain’s Crew
Team Captain: Committee Members Laura Gidas and Randa Triggs
Because team “Captain’s Crew” members are spread out across Pennsylvania, Team Captains Randa Triggs and Laura Gidas got creative and have planned a Virtual Zoom Happy Hour on Sept 13th at 7pm in memory of Joe Triggs!
The theme of the event is based off of Joe’s love for sailing and team “Captain’s Crew” has embraced the mantra, “We can’t change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.”
As part of the Happy Hour event, Team “Captain’s Crew” will also host a trivia night for team members with questions about Joe, ALS, and Sports! To celebrate, winners will receive various prizes and gift cards!
Meet Ray’s Legacy
Team Captain: Hollee Russell
It’s been 30 years since Ray Brendlinger lost his battle with ALS & Team “Ray’s Legacy” have been walking for close to 27 years! This year, the team plans to have a picnic and walk at a pavilion built in honor of their “Pap.”
The team plans to host their very own mini – walk in Brush Valley PA at the Brush Valley Municipal Park. On September 12th team members will enjoy a picnic, followed by a walk around the ¼ mile track at the park. The park is not only special to team “Ray’s Legacy” because it is in their hometown, but because the pavilion where their picnic will be held was an Eagle Scout Project, completed by family member, Christopher Anderson in 1998, and dedicated in memory of Ray.
“Our family looks forward to this walk every year, it is always a wonderful day to just celebrate the life of a great man, and raise money for an amazing organization,” said team captain, Hollee Russell.
Meet Mom’s Marchers
Team Captain: Lynn Schwartzmiller
Lynn Schwartzmiller, team captain of “Mom’s Marchers,” has been walking in memory of her mom, Diane Marie Glass, since the first walk! But this year, this team is shaking things up with a Milk Shake Party! On Friday, September 11th you can find this team at 1448 Iriqouis Drive servin’ up some shakes! The team encourages everyone to stop by and come sit and chat, or enjoy your shake via COVID friendly curbside delivery💜
When asked why the Pittsburgh Walk to Defeat ALS® is important to their team, Lynn expressed, “Our family lives on through my mom, the lessons she taught and the examples she showed. There is not a day that she is not thought of, or a celebration that she is not part of! Our family has walked as ‘Mom’s Marchers’ every year in the Pittsburgh Walk to Defeat ALS; and we will walk for another twenty and another twenty until a CURE is FOUND!!! ‘We walk because we can… and she would if she could!’
In addition, the Chapter plans to go LIVE with team captain, Lynn at her event on Friday night! Tune in via Facebook
Pittsburgh Walk to Defeat ALS® committee and the chapter thanks all teams who have made this year’s Pittsburgh Walk to Defeat ALS® a success, and encourages anyone in the community to donate and participate.