The Walk to End ALS events that take place across the province, throughout the year, mean different things to different people, but there is a common thread of support, community and knowing you’re not alone on this journey.

James Young and his family
James Young and his family.

James Young, a 42-year-old father of two young boys, considers himself one of the lucky ones. Diagnosed in 2013, James has a very slowly progressing form of ALS that probably started back in his early 20s. It’s only now that “the disease is starting to take its toll,” says James. “Even if everyone who is diagnosed with ALS could live as long as me, that would be progress. Right now, most people with ALS have so little time.”

A passionate hockey player and Leafs fan, James says he is fortunate to still get out on the ice and skate, even if his balance is severely compromised. He’s had to give up coaching hockey and working as a business analyst, but he still keeps busy. These days, when James isn’t pursuing his passion for streaming and blogging online, he spends his time devoted to his boys, William and Owen. One of his goals is to teach the boys to cook, not just as a life skill, but also to prepare them for a time when their dad won’t be able to help out in the kitchen.

On June 15, 2019, James and his family participated in their fourth Walk to End ALS in Durham Region. Through his team – ‘Team WoW Challenges’ – a portion of James’ fundraised dollars will be invested in Canadian ALS research with the greatest potential for finding a cure. His hope is that this would happen within his own lifetime. “Raising money for research is super important,” he says. “We need to speed up the search to save lives.”

James Young and his wife circa 2004
James Young and his wife when they were first engaged in 2004.

This year, James wasn’t able to complete the full 5km distance walking with his cane, but he did take video footage and stream it to share with his online community. On the day of the Walk, James was filled with a mix of emotions. “On the one hand, you’re all pumped up. You’ve raised the money and it’s great to be walking as a group. On the flip side, you know you’ll meet up with families you know who have lost someone, or you might see someone who is progressing very quickly.“ The day of the Walk can bring up difficult feelings, but overriding some of the sadness is the importance of family and community in a way that is tremendously uplifting. “The Walk to End ALS offers hope,” says James. “Just walking together towards a common goal feels like a positive thing.”

In addition to helping invest in ALS research, James’ fundraising efforts support community-based services provided by ALS Canada, like the loan equipment program that provided his scooter. “I used to be stuck at home but now I can get out and about. I used to think scooters were for old people, but after a month or so of getting around in it, I decided I didn’t care anymore what people think. It’s really changed my life a lot.”

James also appreciates the opportunity to attend support groups run by ALS Canada in his region. Although it’s hard sometimes when a friend he has made in the group passes away, he still appreciates the social aspect and the emotional support he receives. “I like the chance to get out and talk to people who are going through the same things as me, and the chance to help others,” James explains.

James knows there is power in numbers. Seeing so many people show up for the Walk to End ALS is encouraging as it means awareness is increasing. He strongly believes in the need to accelerate the discovery of effective treatments, to eradicate this disease once and for all—and in the power of research to make it happen.


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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