September 8, 2007, marked the three-year anniversary of my ALS diagnosis, and
I celebrated it by walking two full miles along Montrose Harbor with about 100 of my friends and family--and many more who
weren't able to be there but were with us in spirit. Thank you so much to everyone who walked, donated, spread
awareness, and supported us in an effort to make this year's Walk4Life a success!
|The 2007 "Ask about Aimee" Team--with a more scenic backdrop than last year!
Our team got off to an admirable start, finally letting some other team have
the dubious honor of bringing up the rear this year. We also managed to organize a team photo that featured the lake rather
than the port-a-potties as a backdrop. Hooray for small victories!
And we mostly kept pace with the 5,000+
ALS activists strolling along the lakefront and swatting a gazillion mosquitoes--the adults dodging puddles and many children
splashing happily through them. Everywhere I looked, gray "Ask about Aimee" t-shirts beckoned me forward, challenging
me to keep up with those who had come out in support of me and my family.
|Stubborn? Pigheaded? Tenacious? Mulish? Obstinate? Ah, I see you've met Aimee.
So weary, in pain, and weaving a bit wildly at times, I clung to the handles of my
wheelchair but steadfastly avoided sitting in it until the Walk was over. And I owe that to each and every person who carried
me forward when my own strength was waning. The support and encouragement of our amazing team buoyed me when my spirits started
to lag, their energy and enthusiasm propelling me onward when my own power faltered.
Maybe that sounds cheesy--okay, it does sound cheesy--but it also
happens to be true. The last half-mile or so was excruciating, and I found myself calling upon every last shred of will power
to continue. My toes were refusing to lift, and I stubbed them--agonizingly and repeatedly. My hands were squeezing the wheelchair
handles so tightly, I gave myself blisters at the bases of my thumbs. My back was so stiff, I struggled to turn the wheelchair
enough to avoid puddles or other walkers who darted across my path. My shoulders were screaming so loudly from holding my
arms out in front of me, I kept picturing the SNL sketch where the weightlifter's arms ripped off and imagined that just
might happen to me. I was sweating so profusely, my sunglasses kept sliding off my face until I eventually removed them. And
I was breathing so hard, I couldn't even raise my voice to reply to the other teams and walkers who were shouting their
|Some of the cutest backs Aimee climbed aboard.
Yet when my own will power ran out--when I was this close to giving in
and turning to ask my brother Brent to push me the rest of the way--I looked up and saw several backs sporting our familiar
gray shirts, and I clambered aboard: on the backs of cheerful kids who gamely trudged two miles on small legs; on the backs
of several adults who endured the two miles despite knee troubles and recent surgery; on the backs of parents who pulled wagons,
pushed strollers, or simply carried the smallest children for two miles; on the backs of friends and family who added these
two miles to the hundreds or thousands they had already traveled just to be with us; on the backs of new friends and old friends
who gladly gave up a beautiful, late-summer Saturday to help us move another step forward toward our goal of an ALS-free future.
|"Nope, I won't even get up for brownies!"
And then it was over. I stumbled back to our base camp, exhilarated by the fact
that I was still on my feet. This is the closest I will ever come to finishing a marathon or an Iron Man, and I reveled in
the fact that--with an awesome team spurring me onward--I had done what I set out to do. As I parked my wheelchair and sank
into it, I reflected on my good fortune and gave thanks for the tremendous love and support surrounding me on this and every
And I continue to give thanks for that love and support, as well as for the chance
to complete a two-mile walk exactly three years after my diagnosis--knowing far too many ALS patients have not had (or will
not have) that chance.
The Les Turner ALS Foundation
will update our team total in the coming days and weeks. If you'd like to follow along, please click on the link below.
"Ask About Aimee" Team Page
Believe it or not,
planning is already under way for next year's 8th Annual Walk4Life on September 13, 2008. If you haven't walked with
our team before but are interested in getting involved with next year's event, please email Aimee using the link below.
Coffee, Zambrano, and ALS
probably heard about how if you give up your gourmet coffee habit for a year, the money you save could cover the Cubs'
payroll until they win a World Series.
But really...even with that elusive World Series title, what fun
would life be if you're always cranky because you gave up coffee?
No, we would never advocate taking such extreme
measures. (Honestly, have you ever seen Jim without a cup of coffee? Yikes!)
But maybe there's somewhere
else in your budget where you could squeeze a dime or a quarter a day to make a donation
that will eventually help prolong or save lives. Or maybe you've been meaning to scrape up the loose coins from under
the couch cushions an under the seat of your car. Or maybe--just maybe--you took a hundred-dollar bill to the gas
station and actually got some change back. It doesn't matter where it comes from (as long as it's obtained
legally) or how much it is. If you have a few dollars to spare, please, please, please send them our way!
It's so easy. Simply use the link below and click on the "Donate Now" button to make your tax-deductible donation
to the Les Turner ALS Foundation.
Remember: No donation is too small. (Uh, and for that matter, no
donation is too big, either!)