Business students at the Nova Scotia Community College in Digby have been busy fundraising for people living with ALS, a motor neuron disease.
Together with the Deep Brook Lions Club the students raised over $700 for the ALS Society of Nova Scotia.
The students are all studying either business administration or office administration through the NSCC’s online pilot project in Digby.
They put together a gift basket and raffled it off at the Lions Club’s bingo night. The Lions also donated the take from one of their special games to the cause.
One of the Digby students, Wendy Morell, has had two close family members affected by the disease and spends time with another local woman who has inspired her.
"Spending that time with her made me rethink a lot of the little things that I may take for granted in my life and be truly thankful for," said Morrell in a presentation to her class. "One being the feeling of my arms wrapped around my family and friends embracing them in a hug and saying "I love you". I now take the time to do that more often. "
Morrell explained to her classmates that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. The muscles associated with these nerves waste away from not being used. People with the disease gradually lose the ability to move their limbs and trunk, then they lose they ability to speak, swallow and eventually even breathe.
Most people live two to five years after being diagnosed; two to three Canadians die every day of the disease; there are currently over 60 people in Nova Scotia with ALS.
After the fundraiser the class invited the president of the ALS Society of Nova Scotia, Kimberley Carter, to visit them in Digby. Carter told them about the work the society does to improve the quality of life for those diagnosed with ALS.
"We don't know what causes it or what the cure is," said Carter. "And when people are diagnosed they are devastated. It's terrible because you don't have a lot of time to live. After we let them grieve and come to grips with the situation, we ask them, what do you want to do with the time you have."
The society provides equipment like walkers, wheelchairs, power tilt chairs, hospital beds and breathing suction, as well as communication equipment.
"We spend most of our time in offering comfort and in helping navigate the health care system," says Carter. "If you can imagine, it is a very hard time for families and there's a lot to learn and process, and it can all be quite overwhelming."
The society also contributes to national research into a cure.
The society will hold its annual walkathon fundraiser on Saturday, June 16 in Halifax.