If you already know what ALS is, how it attacks the body and affects quality of life, your next thought is probably, how the hell can we help these people? Especially after witnessing a loved one endure this disease, helping people with ALS has been my mission for the past 11 years.
There are three main ways to help support the ALS Association:
- You can advocate by participating in legislative movements that help change laws and policies, along with bringing general awareness to the disease.
- You can get involved in your local chapter events to join the fight against ALS.
- You can donate to the cause to support research to find a cure and help fund patient care services.
For years I was involved with local fundraising events, but I always thought there was something more that I could be doing…
A couple days after the 2017 Boston Marathon, the Massachusetts Chapter of the ALS Association put up some pictures of runners on Team Challenge ALS. I thought at first maybe they were just employees from the Chapter running in the race, but after doing some digging I realized that it was a larger, national program.
Simply put, Team Challenge ALS is an endurance program that challenges people to accomplish physical & fundraising achievements for those who cannot. Participants combine their passion and commitment to finding a cure for ALS with their drive to achieve physical challenges such as marathons, cycling events, winter sports, obstacle events, mountain climbing, etc. You even might have heard of Team Challenge ALS playing in a basketball tournament for Pete Frates this past summer (check out the roster here). There are so many ways you can be a part of this movement, but for me, I wanted to be a part of the Boston Marathon team.
I did some research on the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) site around their charity program, but didn’t see the ALS Association listed so I contacted the MA Chapter to find out more information. They did a quick phone screening to gauge my interest in the program and I was put on the application list for Fall.
It was such a loooooong wait from April, but we finally got applications for the team in September. Each applicant had to essentially tell their own story – their motivation to run for Team Challenge ALS/connection to the disease, past fundraising success, and running experience.
I knew going into this process that it was going to be highly competitive. The B.A.A. Charity Program is huge. Majority of the organizations involved have spots for over 100 people, but for some of the smaller organizations, they only give out a few bib numbers each year. When we received our applications we were notified that there were only 6 spots up for grabs this year. I was already really nervous that I wasn’t going to get picked because I only had two half marathons under my belt, but was hopeful that my passion for this cause would shine through.
After waiting in anticipation for a few weeks, the Chapter sent through a congratulatory email to the six team members and I WAS ONE OF THEM! I think I sent a screenshot of that email to everyone I knew that afternoon. I was sooooo excited!
However, getting a spot on the team was just the first step. Now I had to fundraise and train my ass off.
If you run the Boston Marathon as an individual runner (not part of a team), you have to meet time standards that correspond to age and gender. You have to run a marathon prior to race day and that time must fall within qualifying standards. Take a look at these times for the 2019 race – runners that qualify are elite athletes.
But, if you run the Boston Marathon through the charity program, you have to “qualify” through fundraising efforts. All members of Team Challenge ALS have been given a minimum fundraising goal of $7,500.
To help us reach that goal, the Chapter has set monthly deadlines in increments of $1,500 to keep us on track. At the time of writing this blog, I have raised $4,635 through the generous support of family and friends ❤ I just reached my February goal and am working towards my March 14th goal of $6,000.
Thank you to everyone that has supported me on this journey so far. I can’t wait to test my strength, push my limits, and fight ALS on race day!