The first spring Walk to Defeat ALS® is right around the corner, with fundraising and team building already underway in many markets. While large-scale gatherings are still prohibited in many parts of the country, as with the need for masks and social distancing still in effect, The ALS Association continues to draw from lessons learned during the 2020 “Walk Your Way” virtual events.
“We are so proud of all of our chapters and volunteers across the country who are working so hard to come up with creative ways to continue to “walk” safely in their communities,” said Shannon Waters, Senior Director of National Signature Events for The ALS Association.
The Association continues to closely monitor national government health agency guidance on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. While local conditions for events vary state by state, the priority is the safety and well-being of people with ALS, their families and caregivers, and our volunteers and staff. So while Walk to Defeat ALS® events may look a little different from place to place, the ALS community will creatively come together safely in local markets to honor a loved one with the disease, to remember those who have passed, and to raise awareness and critical fundraising support for the fight against ALS.
“To make sure we keep our participants engaged, we are switching it up and getting people outside and raising awareness through car decoration,” said Stephanie Oliva, Marketing and Communications Manager for The ALS Association Florida Chapter. “By having car parades in prominent parks and areas in the regions, this will also help increase ALS awareness.” The chapter is turning their spring events into a “Parade of Hope,” community car parades allowing participants to celebrate from the safety of their own vehicles.
The ALS Association Evergreen Chapter is taking yet a different approach with their spring walks. “The Evergreen Chapter covers almost a million square-miles. We are excited for the ‘Walk in Your Neighborhood’ concept that allows participation in our more rural areas,” said Elizabeth Loomis, Marketing and Communications Specialist at the chapter. “We have renamed our walks to make them feel more inclusive to surrounding areas.”
Amara Bates, Development Director of the Evergreen Chapter says, “Virtual may still seem confusing to some, and they wonder, do they even need to register for an event that isn't in a park? Some teams that reside several miles from the in-person walk site have appreciated the ease of the ‘Walk in Your Neighborhood’ concept and have expressed the desire to continue meeting after we are safe to go back to regular events.”
“It’s likely that even when the pandemic is over and it’s safe to gather together, the Association will continue to have hybrid type events, still allowing a virtual option for those who are not comfortable being back in crowds, or who just enjoy being able to participate in their own way,” said Shannon. “These events are so important to the communities we serve, and we will continue to find new ways to enhance the experience for all of those who want to participate.”
To learn more about the Walk to Defeat ALS® and how you can get involved, visit WalktoDefeatALS.org.