Local non-profit Ann Arbor Active Against ALS celebrates its 10-year anniversary this month. Since its founding in 2008, this organization has awarded over half a million dollars to local, national, and international ALS researchers while raising awareness, building community, and engaging youth in giving back. The community is invited to celebrate at their 10-Year Anniversary Gala on Saturday, Nov. 10.
Ann Arbor Active Against ALS began when local friends and neighbors of University of Michigan professor Bob Schoeni gathered around a kitchen table to support him, his wife Gretchen, and their two daughters after his initial ALS diagnosis. Approximately 6,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS annually (military veterans are twice as likely to develop the disease): a devastating illness with no known cure. Armed with this knowledge, the group decided to launch a non-profit that focused on building awareness and raising funds through events that encourage compassion, awareness, and physical activity — the very thing ALS takes away.
Community response since the organization’s inception has been nothing short of inspiring. In 2010, six former collegiate swimmers had the ambitious goal to set a world record of a double crossing of the English Channel while raising funds for ALS. On July 27, 2012, they broke the world record, swimming both directions in 18 hours, 55 minutes, 20 seconds and ultimately raising $120,000 for ALS.
Since then, Ann Arbor Active Against ALS continues to host events that have become a staple of the community.
From the Twinkie Run (named one of the eight Wacky Food Races by Runner’s World) to the Rivalry Ride to the Box Car Derby, their events get people moving, talking, and having fun. As a result of these efforts, the Ann Arbor City Council proclaimed May 10, 2018 ALS Awareness Day in Ann Arbor.
Bob and Gretchen shared the following reflection of this organization’s impact on their journey: “We celebrated the 10th anniversary of diagnosis by reflecting on all that we’ve learned since July 29, 2008 and being thankful for the countless number of people who have helped us through the years. We started a journal a few years ago that lists all the ways people have helped us, and it is hard to keep it up to date because we have benefited from so many!”
Ann Arbor Active Against ALS invites the community to celebrate this milestone at their 10-Year Anniversary Gala on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 7-10 p.m. at the Travis Pointe Country Club. Ari Weinzwig, Zingerman’s Co-Owner and Founding Partner, will give the keynote address.
Tickets are limited and available activeagainstals.org