Patients, families reflect during 2019 ALS Walk in Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- We appreciate your support of the annual ALS Walk in Raleigh, our ABC11 Together spotlight on the debilitating disease, its effects and the ongoing research to develop effective treatment.

Our team, Stogner Strong, walked to honor our departed friend and coworker Larry Stogner, the ABC11 anchor who lost his battle with ALS in 2016.

His widow Bobbi and others walking in his name wore ABC11 yellow shirts, and they weren't the only people displaying bright colors that call attention to their cause.

Karen Keen-Demello led a team wearing blue shirts that said "Randall's Ralliers."

"I asked my brother Randall if I could build a team for him in his honor, as he was diagnosed with ALS in November," said Demerol. "He said sure. We thought maybe we would get just a few people together and we've ended up with, probably, over a hundred here today!"

ALS patient Ed Rapp had lots of support as he walked with the large crowd.

"There's people here from my work, from the local dealership Gregory Poole, from my family, from their friends. So for me, it's an ALS walk but it's also more like a family reunion," said Rapp.

We saw others walking with their spouses. Saturday was the third ALS Walk for Edward Henderson and his wife since his diagnosis in 2017.

"It's wonderful, and to be greeted by so many that I've met along the way, I'm encouraged," Henderson said. "And it makes me want to continue to do whatever I can, as long as I'm able. And I'll be back next year!"

The annual walk raises money that supports research and development of treatments while inspiring hope for an eventual cure.

Amy Raymond with Orion Pharma said, "Clinical trials are the real basis of that hope! That is where patients volunteer themselves, to take part in a clinical trial testing out medications. This is a Phase 3 trial, so this is the data the FDA will look at to decide if all ALS patients can take this medication in the future."

"We're blessed to have some of the best doctors and support staff, clinics in the country, right here in the Triangle," said Henderson. "If we can keep that support coming and growing, we know that we can get them the tools that they need to be even more successful!"

Watching the crowd of individual walkers and those on teams fill the streets of downtown Raleigh made patients who participated, their families and researchers smile.

"We'd like to thank the local chapter of the ALS Association for all they do for patients, their families and the community as a whole," Raymond said.
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