Jocelyne Gall is doing her best to support her dad, Bill, who was diagnosed with ALS in July 2018. As the only child of divorced parents, she is the only family member attending to her dad’s needs – and with three young children of her own, she has a lot to manage. While her situation is challenging, Jocelyne is very grateful her father can afford care that enables him to continue living independently at home. She knows ALS can be an enormous financial burden some families simply cannot afford.

Jocelyne also appreciates the support she has received from her ALS Canada Regional Manager, Sheila Dorsch. “Sheila is instrumental in helping us navigate the later stages of the disease. She’s a listening ear for me, and an advocate for my dad – for example, she works with our LHIN coordinator to support his needs,” says Jocelyne. “As things become more difficult, I think she will be an invaluable resource and source of comfort. It’s nice to speak with someone who knows exactly what I’m going through and is so well-aware of the disease.”

Jocelyne joined her first Walk to End ALS in the fall of 2018 in solidarity with her dad, but there were other compelling reasons she decided to participate. “I wanted to show how important it is to help find a cure so other families don’t have to go through this, and I wanted to bring more awareness about ALS because many people don’t realize just how devastating it is,” she explains.

As the Walk goes virtual for the first time, Jocelyne suspects it may be difficult to capture the same sense of community. “I love when you see massive teams of people who are out there to support their loved ones living with ALS, and also those who honour loved ones who’ve passed away,” she explains.

On the other hand, she’s excited to organize a 5km local, physically-distanced walk on country roads with family and friends – she thinks this approach will make it easier for them to participate because they won’t have to travel to where the Walk is typically held in London. She’s even hoping to make the event more personal by starting or finishing the walk at Bill’s house, a short distance from where she lives in St. Marys.

One big surprise has been the outpouring of generosity at a time when many people are making sacrifices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trained as a professional fundraiser, Jocelyne is well aware of the importance of the Walk to End ALS as the single largest annual revenue-generating event for ALS Canada. With Brain Canada matching 40% of funds raised through the Walk to support ALS research, every dollar raised makes a future without ALS even more within reach.

Jocelyne’s team has already surpassed its fundraising goal for 2020. In fact, the team has raised more money this year than in 2018 or 2019! The reasons are not entirely clear, but Jocelyne believes it may be that people are changing their priorities right now and stepping up to help out. Personal sacrifice is bringing an awareness that is translating into positive action and a willingness to put the needs of others at the top of the list.

Sadly, Jocelyne’s dad won’t be able to join the rest of her team for heir walk on June 21st. His symptoms have progressed quite rapidly, and he requires support to perform all daily functions such as eating and bathing. These are difficult days for a man who used to lead a very active life, but Jocelyne says Bill still enjoys physically-distanced visits with his grandchildren, and contact with friends using FaceTime.

Our community is familiar with resilience, courage, and adaptability. Let’s all stand behind Jocelyne and Bill by making this year’s virtual Walk to End ALS the best ever!

The Walk to End ALS is the largest volunteer-led fundraiser for ALS Societies across Canada. Your fundraising efforts and generous donations support the best ALS research in Canada and enable ALS Societies to provide community-based support to people and families living with the disease. In 2020, the Walk is going virtual for the first time ever! Register and start fundraising today at https://walktoendals.ca/