Betty’s Run for ALS expected to bring Calgarians together for 24th consecutive year

Calgarians rally for 24th consecutive year to support ALS
WATCH: This year’s Betty’s Run will look a little different than it has in the past because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the spirit of the event is still expected to prevail. Deb Matejicka reports.

Betty’s Run for ALS is always a big party in Calgary.

For the last 23 years, the annual event that raises funds and awareness about the neurodegenrative disease has always included music, entertainment, celebrity speakers and lots of food, including mini doughnuts.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things will look just a little different this year with the run being held virtually. The spirit of the event, however, will still very much be up close and personal.

“I will say, while we miss the mini doughnuts, we can still do a lot to build community in that sense,” said Betty’s Run committee co-chair Candace Newman.

READ MORE: Edmonton lemonade stand raises money for ALS

So that means all the music, entertainers and speakers, there will still be a part of the day with their appearances coming via livestream on the ALS Society’s Facebook page on Sunday.

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As for participants, they are being encouraged to still get out that day for their own private run, walk, wheel or ride.

“The highlight for me is I’m going to have family members coming up from Edmonton,” said Katherine Gartner, an ALS patient and this year’s run ambassador.

“So with most of my family and a few friends, we are planning to go to Bowness Park for our walk,” she said.

Gartner was diagnosed with ALS in January of 2019. Since then, she has lost her ability to walk, her arms are weak and her speech has started to slur. She says the progression of the disease has almost been as difficult on her family as it has been on her.

“It’s nice to know that we’re not in this fight alone,” Gartner said.

The ALS Society will begin livestreaming the event at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday on its Facebook page where participants can also find materials to help show their support.

The organization will also be posting messages and sharing stories on its Instagram page.

Participants are encouraged to share their run experiences on social media using the hashtag BettysRun.

“This is a way that we can all share our stories,” Newman said. “We can all participate virtually in the event and rally behind a fantastic cause.”

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Newman added that for those who can not participate on Sunday, there will be a recorded version of the event on the ALS Society’s YouTube channel. Anyone else wanting to show their support can also text the word “support” to 30333 to make a $10 donation to the ALS Society.

To date, Betty’s Run has raised over $7.8 million for client support services in Alberta and for national ALS research.