Crapaud firefighters put down hoses and pick up hockey sticks for fundraiser creating awareness of neurodegenerative disease
© MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN
Crapaud Fire Department chief Greg Paynter, from left, members David Walsh, Rob Miller, Randy Shaw and deputy chief Gordon Mayhew show the trophy for the department’s first ALS Awareness and Fundraising Hockey Tournament being held later this month. The cause hits close to home for members of the department, with Walsh having been diagnosed with the disease about three years ago.
CRAPAUD- Members of the fire department here are rallying together to battle an incurable disease that affects about 3,000 Canadians, including one of their own.
The Crapaud fire department is also challenging others to help fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often shortened to ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, by participating in the first ALS awareness and fundraising hockey tournament later this month.
Randy Shaw, public relations officer for the department, said the drive for the tournament came from one of the department's long-time members, David Walsh, being diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease about three years ago.
Walsh, who has been a member for about 27 years, continues to teach, train and respond to emergency calls.
"David has been a true inspiration to our new and current members. His dedication to the department throughout the years has not gone unnoticed," said Shaw.
ALS affects about one in every 100,000 Canadians, with the disease being fatal for about 80 per cent of those diagnosed within two to five years.
Those living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of neurons in the brain and spinal cord.
Walsh said he had heard little about the disease before his own diagnosis.
"Before that I'd never heard anything about it," said Walsh. "Now I'm hearing more and more about this, so hopefully this will bring the awareness out and make people more aware about ALS. It's more common than we think."
Walsh noted that several others in the South Shore area have been affected by the disease in the past several years.
After Walsh's diagnosis, several members of the Crapaud fire department decided to put the tournament together.
Shaw and fellow tournament organizer Rob Miller said the event is being held Friday, March 11 and Saturday March 12 at the South Shore Actiplex in Crapaud.
Other fire departments and first responders across P.E.I. were quick to jump into action for the cause.
"When we first started this process, we thought whatever funds we can raise is a great start. Now, it's looking more like a goal of $5,000, which is fantastic," said Shaw. "We've got teams from all over the province. As far as Murray River FD down east, and we have Tyne Valley FD coming from up west."
Other teams include New London, North River, Kinkora and Kensington.
"Island EMS is also putting in a team," said Miller.
All funds raised from the tournament will be donated to the ALS Society of P.E.I.
Anyone looking to make a contribution can do so both Friday night and Saturday at the games, which will have free admission.
Miller said the event will also see a number of door prizes for participants, as well as a raffle for a 60-gallon air compressor available donated by Spring Valley Building Centre.
The department hopes to make this tournament an annual event.