Tuesday, May 21, 2013 12:00 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VILLA HILLS, Ky., May 21, 2013 – Approximately 1,200 people turned out at Turfway Park on Sat., May 18, for the third annual Northern Kentucky Walk to Defeat ALS, a fundraising and awareness event to combat the neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The event generated more than $46,000 in donations that directly benefit the ALS Association Kentucky Chapter, which supports those affected by ALS in the Commonwealth and the surrounding area.
The majority of the crowd walked as teams participating in honor or memory of relatives or friends afflicted with the disease, which attacks brain and spinal cord cells that control voluntary motor function. There is no cure or treatment to halt progression of the disease.
The walk began at 10:00 a.m. when Rita Hazelbaker, Shawn Mullennex, and Chris Fryman cut the ribbon and led the crowd on a circuit around the Turfway Park parking lots. Katie Taylor, Hazelbaker's daughter and team captain of Rita's Angels, said, "There are not enough words to express my gratitude toward my family and friends who made today possible! Today was about raising awareness about ALS, and most important, to honor my awesome mother, Rita Hazelbaker, who is fighting it."
The walk was truly a community affair. Cincinnati country radio station B-105 was on hand to provide the day’s soundtrack and nearly 80 silent auction items were donated by such local businesses as Brio Tuscan Grill, Carrabba's, Skyline Chili, Bonefish Grille, the Cincinnati Bengals, Sableux Salon and Spa, Starbucks, and Epic Design House, among others. Before and after the walk the crowd enjoyed the talents of facepainters and a magician as well as photos with Rebel, a racehorse escort pony owned by Turfway's general manager, Chip Bach. The local Knights of Columbus supplied their legendary Holy Donuts, thanks to Keith Cahill, chair of the Bishop Ackerman Council donut trailer, and his wife, Mary, whose father succumbed to ALS. After the one-mile walk, the crowd enjoyed pizza from LaRosa's and drinks from 7UP.
A larger venue was required after the initial Northern Kentucky Walk to Defeat ALS grew from 300 walkers in 2011 to more than 1,200 this year, when Turfway opened its facilities to the walk and its participants for the first time. "I loved the new walk site," said Becky Knapmeyer, captain of Sharon's Stars of Hope and daughter of Sharon Karrick, who passed away from ALS just 17 days before the walk. "As my husband would say, it's a little more festive. As for the sunshine, I prayed to my mom and sure enough the rain stopped and a peek of sun rays came out!"
Chris Fryman, board member and Northern Kentucky Walk chair, excitedly commented, "Turfway is such a great venue, and their staff were so accommodating. We look forward to holding our Northern Kentucky Walk there next year on May 17!"
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks cells in the brain and spinal cord, affecting control of voluntary motor function. The ability to walk, talk, swallow, and even breathe progressively deteriorates, and in the later stages most patients become paralyzed. The mind and memory are not affected by the disease. The rate of progression varies, but life expectancy after diagnosis averages two to five years. ALS occurs throughout the world and crosses all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic boundaries. Ninety percent of cases have no known genetic component; about 10 percent appear to be hereditary. Military men and women are two to three times more likely to be stricken with ALS. No cure or treatment exists to halt or reverse ALS.K/em>