GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The ALS West Michigan Chapter held their annual walk in Grand Rapids on Sunday, with at least a third more in attendance than previous years.
With the Ice Bucket Challenge taking over social media this past month, those affect by ALS said that they're grateful for the awareness.
With home videos of people taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge flooding Facebook feeds around the world, ALS West Michigan Chapter Executive Director Paula Morning said that awareness has skyrocketed to an all time high.
"A lot of things that can happen with ALS, will happen because of the Ice Bucket Challenge. A lot of the critical research that needs to happen, will happen now because of all this awareness. So, we are so very grateful," said Morning.
Morning said that the disease causes people to loose their ability to walk, speak and move other limbs, all while keeping the mind intact.
"ALS is a very lonely journey for many people and I think when they come here, what they say is I belong to a team and we are fighting too. I think that's why it's so significant that people come, even if their loved one is already gone, they are still a team," said Morning.
Amy Bozek and Mickey Geldersma were there to honor their father and grandpa, Bud DeShane who lost his battle to ALS two years ago. Bozek and Geldersma said that their family too has taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge in honor of their loved one.
"Our family certainly took part of that as well and even her two little kids, three and five-years-old, they took the Ice Bucket Challenge for their grandpa, and honestly it's bringing awareness and also raising money to fund a cure," said the family.
The family said with all the attention the challenge has received, they're grateful more people are becoming informed about the illness.
"For us it was wonderful. Two years ago when we lost grandpa, a lot of people didn't know what ALS was and now with that Ice Bucket Challenge, just having the awareness alone, whether you chose to donate or not, it's pretty incredible," said Geldersma.
It's not just awareness, but the organization has also received a lot of money. ALS organizers said that thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge, there has been more than 110 million dollars raised for treatment.
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