Ponoka man brings awareness to ALS


There is no stopping Ponoka resident Douglas Howard when it comes to raising awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease changed Howard’s life when he was diagnosed with ALS eight years ago, since then Howard has moved forward with his passion to raise funds and awareness for the disease.

Doug Howard rides his scooter alongside other supporters across Ponoka to help raise awareness for ALS.

Doug Howard rides his scooter alongside other supporters across Ponoka to help raise awareness for ALS.

By Eraina Hooyer

Staff Reporter

There is no stopping Ponoka resident Douglas Howard when it comes to raising awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease changed Howard’s life when he was diagnosed with ALS eight years ago, since then Howard has moved forward with his passion to raise funds and awareness for the disease.

On June 7 Howard rode his scooter through Ponoka with supporters walking alongside him to raise awareness for ALS. The trek was tiring for Howard but he was successful. The group began their journey at Redimart and went west on Hwy 53 and traveled as far as River Hill, totaling approximately five miles.

“I was thoroughly exhausted by that time,” said Howard. “I was very encouraged to have about 20 people from the Church of the Open Bible join me on foot.”

Howard is presently preparing to participate in the annual Walk for ALS on June 14 to celebrate and raise funds to help people with the disease. Howard will be heading out to Hwy 611 on his scooter to complete many miles for the walk.

Although the walk can be exhausting for Howard, the thrill of being outside and participating in walks is exhilarating.

“I feel like I am back riding my bike,” he said. “It’s freedom, I’m out there, I can hear the birds, smell flowers, it’s life, it’s living.”

On the afternoons of June 11, 12 and 13 Howard will be at the entrance of Extra Foods and he encourages the community to come and meet him and ask him questions.

“I’m doing this to attract people’s attention,” said Howard. “There’s not a lot of funding for the disease. I’m here in Ponoka and am a local ALS person, I’m trying to do what I can to make it known about this disease and generate some research dollars.”

With ALS there is no known cause or cure. It causes the nerves that control the muscles to die which in turn causes the muscles to die while senses and mental function remain the same.  The disease is fatal and usually results when the muscles of the diaphragm become paralyzed.  

Life expectancy for persons with the disease is usually three to five years.

In Canada there are 2,500 people with ALS and two to three people die from ALS everyday.

For more information or to support Howard contact him at hahoward@telus.net or call him at 403-783-5873.