ST. LOUIS – A beautiful day at Forest Park marked the return of the St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS. The Upper Muny parking lot was packed Saturday as thousands of walkers gathered for the ALS Association’s walk.
Joe Winkler is living with ALS. He and his sisters gathered at Forest Park on Saturday and did what they planned to do under some shade.
“I’m sitting for a while,” Winkler said. “I’d been standing for about an hour, and my legs get tired, so I’m taking it easy the rest of the day.”
“I was diagnosed six years ago and my condition is very slow, so I’m here to hope we can find a cure,” he said.
A group of his family members joined others to raise money and awareness for ALS.
“It makes me feel happy to see all of these people out here walking and supporting ALS,” Winkler said.
ALS Association Development Manager Elizabeth Roe said Saturday’s walk was great.
“I think we had about 140 teams this year fundraising. It’s a big turnout,” Roe said.
The timing and the weather were perfect for the walk. Participants could choose to walk one or two miles.
“The last two years were virtual and then we had a rainout in 2019, so everybody’s excited to be back and be walking and we’re excited to have them,” Roe said.
The money raised goes to support ALS research and other programs.
“It’s our biggest fundraising event of the year, and we invite anybody living with ALS and their families out to walk in memory, in honor, just to support the cause,” she said.
Sara Felts lost her sister in 2014 and mother in 2020 to ALS.
“It is the biggest struggle in the world to take care of somebody who’s suffering that way, and to watch somebody that you’ve known to be so strong, just deteriorate and it’s very hard. It’s helpful to know that there are other people that you can talk to about it,” Felts said.
Felts was glad to see the support return for the event in-person.
“This year, our group [is] a little smaller but it’s nice to know that your friends and family can look at you and support you and come out and do things like this for you,” she said.