Band dedicating performance to ALS victims

Rachael Waters

The Big Red marching band marches for more than just team spirit.

The band will dedicate its performance at the Nov. 5 football game against Florida International to those living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This is the ALS Association’s first year launching the campaign Marching for ALS with 13 schools already committed. WKU’s marching band is the first in Kentucky to accept the ALS Association’s challenge and begin fundraising.

“We are very excited about WKU’s involvement in this campaign and their enthusiastic effort in helping us raise awareness and reaching our ultimate goal of finding a cure,” said Jennifer D. Lepa, Administrative Coordinator at the ALS Association.

The marching band’s goal is to raise $10,000 before the game using its webpage to accept donations. This will add to the ALS Association’s nationwide goal of a million-dollar campaign.

“With close to 200 members, we have a chance to make a tremendous impact,” Goshen freshmen Patrick MacDonald said.

The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville have also accepted the challenge, and the marching band hopes to beat both schools in their fundraising.

The ALS Association is the only national nonprofit health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS. The Association leads the way in ALS research, patient and community services and public education and advocacy. The funds raised through Marching for ALS will go toward all of these programs.

“The needs of patients and families can be overwhelming,” Lepa said. “Thanks to campaigns like this one, we are able to provide programs and services that enhance the quality of life for our patients and families.”

Up to 30,000 Americans suffer from ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord.  Patients lose voluntary muscle control and movement.

In the later stages of the disease patients are paralyzed. However, usually their minds remain active, trapped inside their degenerating bodies.

Life expectancy is only two to five years after diagnosis, but with the help of the ALS Association life expectancy and comfort can be extended.

“Half of their battle right now is just awareness,” MacDonald said.

ALS can strike anyone and affect any family.  The goal of the challenge is not only to raise money for the ALS Association, but also raise awareness about the disease and how to get help.

“We want everyone to donate and come out to support us at the performance,” MacDonald said.

The marching band is now accepting donations on their website: