‘It’s a legacy to my mother’
ALS Walk Strong will be held in New Waterford next month
When Nancy Poirier found out her mother was diagnosed with ALS she was devastated.
“When she was finally diagnosed with the disease it was shocking to her and to the entire family,” said Poirier. “As a family, we rallied around her, we had a lot of laughs and a lot of tears.”
Theresa (Tessy) White was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS on Dec. 22, 2009, but that didn’t stop her from living her life.
“She was very positive through her whole journey and she remained positive, she kept everyone up,” said Poirier. “Anybody who ever came in contact with her, came to visit, they use to love coming to see her because they loved how positive she was — she was extremely strong throughout it all.
“It’s a terminal disease but your attitude has a lot to be with it and being surrounded by people you love and people who are positive, it’s half the battle.”
Poirier said her mother never missed a family event.
“My mother was always the life of the party and when she couldn’t get to the party, the party came to her,” she said. “We always had huge family suppers, there was always a crowd at the house. As bad as it was, there were a lot of positive things that came out of it.”
White died on Aug. 3, 2011, almost two years after her diagnosis. She was 68.
“My mother was a nurse, so she knew what ALS was, I knew what ALS was,” said Poirier, who is also a nurse. “She knew probably two months before she was diagnosed that she had ALS. She figured that’s what she had.”
ALS is a specific disease that causes the death of neurons which control voluntary muscles. Nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement die, robbing sufferers of the ability to walk, talk, swallow and eventually breathe.
The cause is not known in 90-95 per cent of cases; about five to 10 per cent of cases are inherited. There is no cure, with life expectancy between two and five years after being diagnosed.
In Canada, roughly 2,500 to 3,000 people are living with ALS.
Since her mother’s passing, Poirier hasn’t stopped being involved in the ALS community.
For the past five years, she has organized the annual ALS Walk Strong, a fundraiser to raise money for the ALS equipment loan program and research.
“Because the ALS Society is not funded by any level of government, the society is basically run solely on donations raised through the annual walks or any volunteer-driven event,” said Poirier.
This year’s walk will take place on June 3 in New Waterford. Registration will begin at 11 a.m. at the New Waterford fire hall, followed by the 20-minute walk, starting at noon, which will see participants walk from the fire hall through Plummer Avenue to Mahon Street, before returning to the fire hall.
“It’s a legacy to my mother,” said Poirier, when asked why she continues to run the event. “It’s wonderful, especially to someone newly diagnosed, to come to a walk and see everyone is there to support them. It’s a great day.
“It’s important to get the word out about the walk because we’re walking for those living in our communities to support them, but we are also walking for loved ones who are no longer with us,” she said.
Last year more than 200 people participated in the event.
Poirier said it’s overwhelming to see the amount of support the fundraiser receives each year and she encourages residents to take part in this year’s walk.
“It’s funny, I have people who call me and tell me they would like to go, but they don’t know because they think it’s going to be too difficult,” said Poirier. “It’s not a sad event, it’s very happy, uplifting, and you will enjoy it, and once people come they are happy they did.”
For more information about the ALS Strong Walk, contact Poirier at 902-539-2511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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