For the past 40 years, Dale Hodgins has been saving lives as a paramedic and volunteer firefighter in Kingston, Ontario. In December 2018, he was diagnosed with ALS – a disease he was already familiar with through his work.

As far back as the 80s and 90s, Dale remembers driving people living with ALS home for the weekend. “Back then, they had to be transported with a big respirator,” he recalls. ”I’ve helped people living with the disease, both at the beginning stages and at the end.”

Supportive devices to help with mobility, breathing, and communication have improved over the years, but sadly, there is still no cure for ALS. Hope for a cure is the primary reason Dale and his team, Dale’s Warriors, are taking part in the Walk to End ALS in Kingston this weekend on Saturday, May 25, 2019. “I want to tell people who have ALS to never stop fighting. There’s always hope out there,” he says. “We have to keep raising money for research because the government isn’t doing it.” His message to potential donors is equally direct. “Don’t wait for a loved one to be diagnosed with a terminal disease like ALS,” he says. “Let’s be proactive here and find a cure.”

Dale’s symptoms have been progressing quickly since last December. He has already lost use of his right arm and is having difficulty walking, but that is not limiting his determination to make a difference. In fact, with support from his loving network, he raised $18,900 at his retirement party this past March! Now he is busy giving radio and television interviews and selling specially designed t-shirts for the Walk to End ALS in Kingston.

“The day of the Walk, I’m going to start out with the walker, and if that doesn’t work, I’ve got lots of people who will push me in a wheelchair. I’m going to go and do my best,” he says.

Dale says he’s one of the lucky ones. “I’ve got a family that wants to get me up, wants to get me moving and get me places. As far as friends go, I don’t think there’s a day that’s gone by since January that we haven’t had people just drop in,” he explains.

Even when there is strong support, living with ALS can be very lonely. Dale says the emotional support he receives attending monthly support groups is very important. “Just going to those meetings and talking to other ALS patients makes you feel like you’re not alone out there.”

Building community helps counter feelings of loneliness and isolation. It is one of the benefits of being part of a team participating in the Walk to End ALS. “There’s just no words to say about how proud I feel about all the people who have come out and supported me,” says Dale. “No words I can think of.”

May 25th will be an emotional day with “a few tissues” on hand, but with his friends and colleagues from emergency services, his wife, Mary, his two children, and his grandson, Lucas, by his side, Dale Hodgins is looking forward to being part of something important in creating a future without ALS.

The Walk to End ALS takes place in over 90 communities across Canada until September 2019. Register or donate to a Walk to End ALS near you 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. Donations for all Walk to End ALS events are being accepted until December 31, 2019.

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