Ponoka supports Walk for ALS

New strides have been made for the ALS society during the Walk for ALS held in Red Deer. The fundraiser broke the $100,000 mark and will go to research for ALS.
Ponoka advocate for ALS Doug Howard, who has ALS, raised $8,000 from Ponoka for the cause through various and creative ways.

By Eraina Hooyer

Staff Reporter

New strides have been made for the ALS society during the Walk for ALS held in Red Deer. The fundraiser broke the $100,000 mark and will go to research for ALS.

Ponoka advocate for ALS Doug Howard, who has ALS, raised $8,000 from Ponoka for the cause through various and creative ways.

Howard stationed himself in front of a grocery store to talk with people and generate interest and funds.

“I was very happy with how people responded to me,” said Howard. “Many people would stop and talk with me and give what pocket change they could or write a check.”

Howard estimates that one in ten people gave a donation and that everyone was friendly and willing to talk.

Howard spent three hours at the store on Wednesday, four hours on Thursday and he made a day out of Friday staying from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and collected $1,100 in donations that day.

He had a book to keep him occupied between conversations that was strapped to a stand and realized that people coming in and out of the store were more than willing to turn pages for him.

For Howard, it’s not just about donations, but also about meeting people and having a conversation.

“It’s about meeting and sharing and connecting with people. Communicating with others not only encourages me, but it gives me purpose,” he said. “None of us are immune to struggles some time in life. I feel like I have a positive message to share that is encouraging to others as well, ‘pain and suffering are inevitable, but misery is optional’.”

Howard looks to continue raising awareness and funds for ALS research and already has plans for next year.

“I’m hoping to advertise and organize a bit of a local Ponoka walk for ALS,” he said. “Maybe I could spend more time in the grocery stores next year and connect more with this town of Ponoka.”

Currently Howard is part of a research study conducted by the University of Alberta and is helping break new ground in the world. The study began a couple of years ago with a number of ALS patients in the Edmonton area with a therapy program using a resuscitation bag to blow up the lungs. It has worked well with maintaining his lung volume and has made him popular among the researchers in the field. So they have been doing tests on a number of ALS patients to document this. The United States and Europe currently do not use this method of therapy.

Howard continues to be an advocate for ALS and a leader in moving forward with research and finding results.