Event aims to raise money, awareness for ALS

March 6, 2013 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated March 5, 2013 at 9:06 p.m.

Whether walking, or running, rolling or strolling, all are invited to participate in the fourth annual Stroll, Roll 'n' Run 5-kilometer event at Riverside Park on Sunday morning.

The event aims to raise money and awareness for ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease - a progressive neurodegenerative disease that slowly prevents muscle use in the body.

Stroll, Roll 'n' Run kicks off at 9 a.m. in the park with registration, followed by a meal service and silent auction at 11 a.m.

A pre-race devotional starts at 11:45 a.m., followed immediately by the start of the race at noon.

One of the event's organizers and founders, the Rev. Bill Hassell, was diagnosed with ALS several years ago. In recent years, he's lost the ability to walk, and now uses a digital voice to help him speak.

He's among a small group of empassioned Crossroads residents affected by the disease who now champion ALS awareness and fundraising to find a cure.

"We are so close now to finding something. We are aware that ALS, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinsons, and Alzheimers, all have similar, if not the same, markers," said Hassell, mentioning that he recently started taking new medications for muscle spasms and cramps associated with muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury. "So we can help each other. A breakthrough in one may lead to another."

By helping raise money for research - the Stroll, Roll 'n' Run hopes to raise $30,000 this year - Hassell hopes to direct the public's awareness to organizations like, the ALS Therapy Development Institute, a nonprofit biotechnology company that uses innovative treatment for ALS patients. All proceeds from the event will support the institute, he said.

"They do only research," Hassell said. "They linked me to a new drug that has helped improve my diminished speech, swallowing and (problem with producing too much saliva).

Stroll, Roll 'n' Run registered 250 runners, walkers and strollers last year and Hassell said they're expecting about 600 Sunday.

Some may come simply to enjoy the events of the day, which include a domino tournament in which the players are attempting to beat the Guinness World Records for longest-played domino tournament.

Hassell said he personally invited everyone to come join him for an afternoon of fun in the park. And he's hoping this year he'll finally win the race.

"I want to just have fun. I get beat every time. ... I must have the slowest machine on earth," he said.



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