Kaitlin Hoesch, Manchester, was watching runners complete the New York Marathon in 2006 when she felt a sudden inspiration to become a long-distance runner. She is now set to compete in her first-ever 26.2 mile race. Her training for the race is concluded, though her true mission to raise money for the ALS Association is not.
Long Island – When Christina Raia’s father, Anthony, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) she was only 14-years old, the eldest of five siblings and the only girl. Six years later, when Anthony lost his battle with ALS, Christina Raia had grown up a lot, seen her father’s health deteriorate to the point where he could no longer speak, breath or move on his own and committed herself to raising money for ALS research into a cure.
In her annual letter to raise money for the Walk to Defeat ALS, Christina writes about her self-discovery when she learned about her father’s diagnosis:
“I found myself about to enter into a world of uncertainty – a world filled with obstacles to overcome, and emotion,” she said. “I soon began to realize what mattered most.”
So in 2001, when The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter had the first Walk to Defeat ALS on Long Island, the Raia family formed, “Team Raia”, and went on to raise over $18,000. Later, Christina took over the role as team captain. Over the past seven years, Team Raia has raised almost $150,000.
The impetus to Christina’s almost tireless and selfless volunteerism was that she knew she could not do the medical work to find a cure for ALS, but she knew there was something she could do, and that began early on, writing articles for her high-school newspaper.
“I began to brainstorm of things that I could do, to fight this wretched disease,” Christina said. “I knew I wasn’t going to find a cure by doing research hands-on, but that I could help to find a cure by raising money to fund research, and by creating awareness of the disease.”
Since that time, Christina’s impressive list of accomplishments has increased dramatically, including a speech in front of the Suffolk County Legislature (despite a self-admitted fear of public speaking), volunteering at countless ALS Association events and working to organize the annual “Ride For Life,” a 7-day, 150-mile journey in which ALS patients ride their motorized wheelchairs from Montauk to Manhattan, accompanied by family, friends, volunteers, and numerous supporters. There are many other events that she has attended, spoke at, volunteered for and many other small ways in which she has supported organizations like The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, too numerous to mention. All in her spare time and on a voluntary basis!
Anthony Raia lost his battle with ALS on February 4, 2005. That day, Christina made a promise to her father to continue her fight against ALS, so that one day a cure could be found, and no other children would be forced to grow-up without a mother or father because of this disease.
Christina Raia continues, undaunted and committed as ever. She not only dedicates herself as captain of Team Raia, she is a committee member of the Long Island Walk, helping to organize the event, and she is a member of the ALS Young Professionals Group, where she serves as Chairwoman of their Patient Services Committee.
So far, Christina has kept her promise to her father and shows absolutely no hint of slowing down.
About the Walk to Defeat ALS:
The largest ALS Association Walk in the country, this year promises to be bigger than ever. Last year the Long Island Walk to Defeat ALS raised nearly $1 million, the most money raised by any Walk event of any ALS Association chapter in the United States.
We hope to do even better and continue to raise funds for the care of ALS patients through services and equipment lending, and the funding of cutting edge research to find a cure.
Expected to attend this year’s Walk on Long Island is Q104.3 Radio DJ, Ken Dashow, and Sam Ryan, CBS Television Sports Anchor for CBS 2 News.
What: 2008 Long Island Walk to Defeat ALS
Where: Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, NY
When: Saturday, 9/27/08
Time: Check-in begins at 9:00 AM. Walk begins at 11:00 AM.
Contact: RSVP to Kristina, email@example.com
For more information or to schedule media coverage please contact:
Jennifer Lowy, Director of Marketing & Special Events
Lon S. Cohen, Director of Communications
Thurman Munson had many of the qualities we respect in all our leaders. Like our fundraisers, PALS and healthcare professionals dealing with ALS on a daily basis. “Diana Munson spoke Saturday after receiving an “overwhelming” welcome from the crowd at Old-Timers’ Day. This was a particularly emotional return to the Bronx for her…”
ALS Association Greater New York Chapter and Chris Pendergast have been great allies in the fight against ALS. His heroic efforts are outlined in this story in the New York Times. “An unusual 11-year survivor of A.L.S., Chris Pendergast has taken the lonely helm of an effort to call attention to the needs of those with the disease…”
One of the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter Directors, octogenarian, Ray Robinson, who is a writer of books and articles has seen lots of baseball and has collected lots of autographs. The author of the celebrated Lou Gehrig biography, “Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig in His Time,” talks about his days hunting for autographs in this New York Times essay. In the article he says, “If I had to pick the true highlight of my autograph-hunting days, it had to be the brief encounter with Honus Wagner, probably the greatest shortstop in baseball history…”
The Baltimore Sun reported about ALS victim, O.J. Brigance, the Raven’s Director of Player Development–and former player–in their wrap up of what’s being talked about around the web.
Director of player development and former Raven O.J. Brigance has been battling Lou Gehrig’s disease since May 2007. He addressed the team in a videotaped statement during training camp and encouraged them to take advantage of their opportunity in the NFL by working hard. Jason Cole of YahooSports.com wrote that Brigance has helped ‘set the tone’ for Harbaugh’s first season as coach:
After Brigance, diagnosed with the disease formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis approximately a year ago, finished his four-minute talk to an ovation from the players, Harbaugh came to the front of the room and called upon chaplain Rod Hairston and asked the players to gather as well, take a knee and pray.
It’s a moment that has set the tone for Harbaugh’s first training camp with the Ravens.