You and your communities have made this year’s Walk to End ALS events a tremendous success across Ontario, raising almost $2.1 million to date! Thank you for coming together and uniting in your desire to put an end to ALS. Thank you for showing your support for the 3,000 Canadians and their families living with the disease, and for sharing your experiences by honouring those we have loved and lost. Community is everything.

Your fundraising efforts and donation dollars make a difference. You are helping to fund new and promising Canadian ALS research to create a brighter future, while supporting Ontario families living with ALS today through community-based support services, such as the ALS Canada Equipment Loan Program.

“Due to the progression of the disease, he doesn’t come out now, it’s just too difficult,” explains Tom’s son Matthew. “But he’s still involved. He asks about it, follows the team closely, and we keep him updated. A lot of the games are streamed online, so he follows along and gives us suggestions while he watches.”

The Mustapics are a family that will benefit from your fundraising efforts. Since being diagnosed with ALS in February 2019, Tom Mustapic has received equipment as well as in-home visits from Andrea Barnes, his ALS Canada Regional Manager, who is helping him to navigate the healthcare system. Both of these services are entirely funded by ALS Canada’s donors.

Tom’s ALS diagnosis has meant that he’s had to take a step back from coaching recreational basketball.

“But he’s still involved. He asks about it, follows the team closely, and we keep him updated. A lot of the games are streamed online, so he follows along and gives us suggestions while he watches,” explains Tom’s son Matthew.

Basketball has created a strong bond between father and son over the years: Tom has been coaching Matthew, now 22, since he was in grade five. When Matthew was in grade 11, Tom joined the coaching staff at St. Ignatius Catholic High School. After Matthew graduated, he began to coach alongside his father, and the duo coached the high school team together for four years.

Given the way the Mustapics have touched people’s lives over the years, it’s no surprise that many in their Thunder Bay community rallied to support Tom and his family after his diagnosis. Fundraising for the Walk to End ALS was one of the ways they did so. Thanks to the support of friends and family, basketball coaches and teams, and the Catholic School Board, the Mustapics raised an incredible $47,150.

“People really wanted to do something, and this was a way they could support us,” said Tom’s wife Cindy.

What began as a small fundraising initiative became a word-of-mouth phenomenon within their community. A close friend and local investment advisor set up his own personal fundraising page and rallied his clients to raise $4,100 for the team. An annual charity golf tournament that the Mustapics have always participated in dedicated their fundraising efforts to support their Walk team, resulting in an additional gift of $10,000. And the support continued to pour in.

Tom worked for the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board as the Finance Manager & Associate Director before he retired, and continued consulting for the board after his retirement. The school board came together and created their own fundraising team for Tom, hosting a variety of fundraising initiatives like a ‘Dress Down Day’ or ‘Hat Day’—school fundraisers where a loonie from each participating student would go to their Walk to End ALS team. They were ultimately able to give $3,000 to the cause.

Tom and Matthew’s co-coach, Alicyn Papich, made the decision to set up a Walk to End ALS team in honour of Tom earlier in the year. Alicyn shared her efforts with Matthew and Cindy, who passed along the details to a few close family members and friends.

From there, Matthew set up his own personal fundraising page and the initiative took off. His page was shared widely across Facebook and other social media platforms. Kind souls came out of the woodwork to honour Tom and how he’d touched their lives over the years.

The entirety of Lakehead University men’s basketball team—a partner team of Thunder Bay Blaze Basketball and another local basketball group Tom helped to establish—attended the Walk to End ALS in Thunder Bay to walk for Tom on September 14. Parents of students that Tom had coached came out to support Matthew and Cindy as they walked around beautiful Boulevard Lake.

“We were overwhelmed with all the support we received and very impressed at how organized the Walk was,” said Cindy, who had never participated in a charity walk before. She and her son were able to take photos with their supporters and see the impact that their fundraising efforts had on a community that sought to help them. Tom’s other son Christian, who is currently attending Western University, participated in the Walk to End ALS that took place in London along with his aunt, uncle and cousin.

At the end of this Walk to End ALS fundraising experience, Cindy and her family were incredibly thankful and amazed by the way their community showed up and gave back. “All this took was someone providing [people] with an opportunity.”

When community comes together, everything is possible. The Mustapic family plans on fundraising for the 2020 Walk to End ALS to continue strengthening the bonds with their incredible supporters.


The Walk to End ALS takes place in over 90 communities across Canada every year. Donate to a Walk to End ALS near you until December 31st at www.walktoendals.ca

Your fundraising efforts and generous donations support the best ALS research in the country and enable ALS Canada to provide community-based support to people and families living with the disease in Ontario.

Posted in: Stories, Walk To End ALS