PORTAGE, Mich. — More than 17,000 people in U.S. are living with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
On Saturday, hundreds of people laced up their tennis shoes to raise funds and awareness of the disease.
“A year ago I did this walk on my own, and a year later I need a wheelchair to do it," said Scott Matzka, a retired pro-hockey player who is now battling the disease himself.
Matzka, who was featured on FOX 17 last month, was diagnosed two years ago at the age of 36 with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. He said his body is slowly being taken over by this progressive disease.
“The ice bucket challenge that took place a few years ago, I think that did more for this disease than anything in years and years, anything in my life about raising awareness," said Dustin Nowacek, a neurologist. "People who never knew what ALS was and just thought it was a disease a baseball player had now really know what it is."
Nearly 400 people who have been impacted by the disease participated in Saturday’s walk to defeat ALS.
“We raised approximately $40,000 for the ALS Association and for the research and development,” said Melissa Jekel with the ALS Association Michigan Chapter.