Saanich family steps up support for Walk for ALS

Peoples Drug Mart Walk for ALS takes place at the University of Victoria Sept. 13, beginning at 1 p.m.

Team Underdown is raising funds in support of Arlene Underdown in Peoples Drug Mart Walk for ALS Victoria Sept. 13 at the University of Victoria.

Team Underdown is raising funds in support of Arlene Underdown in Peoples Drug Mart Walk for ALS Victoria Sept. 13 at the University of Victoria.

This year’s Peoples Drug Mart Walk for ALS strikes close to home for one Saanich family.

Not only will the Sept. 13 walk be held at the University of Victoria, but the Underdown family of Saanich has seen firsthand the debilitating effects of the disease.

Arlene Underdown was diagnosed with ALS in the spring of 2014, and her husband Jerry and his daughter Shannon Ngongo-Underdown will both be taking part in this year’s Walk for ALS with family and friends.

“With Arlene now being an ALS patient, the least I could do to offer support was to participate in the ALS Walk in Victoria, as the event helps provide awareness of this disease, as well as provide the practical opportunity to raise much-needed funds,” said Jerry Underdown.

Ngongo-Underdown sees the Sept. 13 walk as a tremendous “opportunity to allow our kids to feel like they can do something to help their Grammie out.”

The Underwood family is encouraging Vancouver Island residents to come out and join them and donate to help fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neuromuscular disease with no known cure, cause or effective treatment.

While an ALS diagnosis is a life-altering event for a family, Ngongo-Underdown said her mother’s diagnosis has served to bring the family closer together.

“We are aware of the time left to spend with our mom and as a family together. Losing her will leave a big hole in our family; however, her love will always be with us.”

She said dealing with a terminal illness brings the whole gamut of emotions, with moments of love, closeness, frustration, stress, tears and laughter.

“But no matter the moment, hold close those around you and just be there, because these moments will be the basis for your memories.”

Proceeds from the Peoples Drug Mart Walk for ALS in Victoria go to the ALS Society of B.C. to fund research and to provide support for those living with ALS.

Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. at the University of Victoria parking lot 10, and the Walk for ALS starts at 1 p.m. Register free online or on the day of the walk.

For more information and to register, visit walksforals.ca/bc.

To support the Underdowns, click “Make a Pledge” and search “Team Grammie Underdown.” You can also send a cheque made to “ALS Society of B.C.”, 1233 – 13351 Commerce Parkway, Richmond, B.C. V6V 2X7, with “Team Grammie Underdown” written in the memo section of the cheque.