Walk, ride, or pull – no challenge is too big when it comes to supporting a world free of ALS. Year round, ALS Canada events bring together the community, demonstrating your commitment to raising awareness, honouring the people we’ve loved and lost, and ultimately helping change the future of ALS.

Creating change with community: ALS Canada 2023 events   

For everything that ALS takes, the connection of a community is one thing it can’t. Each year, we are reminded of the strength, commitment, and impact the ALS community has as we come together.

We’ve said it before – our events are more than just fundraisers; they are a true demonstration of a commitment to changing what it means to live with ALS. From local communities to the greater ALS community, hundreds of people rally together for change at our annual events.

Tony Mongillo (right) and his team “No Ordinary Joes”

In 2023, the power of community was hard to ignore. For Tony Mongillo, who lost his father, Joe, to ALS in 2010, participating in the ALS Canada Pull to End ALS is a chance to bring together family and friends. Mongillo’s team, “No Ordinary Joes”, is a large and energetic force at the event passionately showing their support for people living with ALS and their families. Jumping in as extra pushing power when opposing teams need a little help – Tony and his team made it very clear: community support creates change.

It’s hard to deny the feeling of unity in the face of adversity as we come together – a feeling that can resonate more than the impact of funds raised. “So many others across Canada need the same level of support and care we received. It’s critical that we come together as a community to fund ALS Canada’s essential services, and ALS research that could one day find a cure,” says Michael Petrachenko, who lost his wife, Monique, to ALS in 2022. After years of participating in the ALS Canada Walk to End ALS with Monique by his side, at the 2023 Walk to End ALS, Michael continues to lead “Team Unique Monique”, sure that she’d be so happy to see them raising money and awareness in her honour.

Matthew Horowitz riding at the 2023 ALS Canada Revolution Ride
Matthew Horowitz riding at the 2023 ALS Canada Revolution Ride

A new face at the 2023 ALS Canada Revolution Ride, Matthew Horowitz showcased the impact getting into gear, with the support of community, creates. Though not a big cyclist himself, Matthew and his team “Big Mike and the Boys” rallied together for change after his father, Michael*, was diagnosed with ALS in January 2022 (*Michael Horowitz passed away May 2024). The team raised a staggering $110,659 – Matthew himself raising more than $104,000 of that total – to help people living with ALS and their families just like his.

Together, we can achieve more. The presence of a community connected is strong at ALS Canada events across Canada – a potent reminder that as a community we are creating change, raising awareness, and working a world free of ALS.

Teaming up to take our shot with the ALS Canada Buck-A-Puck for ALS

Shifting from making a shot on the opposing net to taking a stand against ALS was an easy choice for three young hockey players from Etobicoke.

In September 2021, Steve Daly – coach for the Humber Valley Sharks U12 A hockey team – was diagnosed with ALS. Although disease progression persisted, Steve never backed down from being a strong coach and embodying the values of perseverance and determination he encouraged in his players. After losing their coach to this relentless disease in January 2022 the Humber Valley Sharks vowed to make ALS history. Before everyone knew it, Buck-A-Puck for ALS was born with a concept simple yet powerful: raise a buck, shoot a puck.

Buck-A-Puck for ALS community organizers Liam Muffitt (left), Heather Evans, George Daly, Sarah Lopez, and Joshua Lopez

Buck-A-Puck for ALS began as a community event with The Stevie Fever for ALS Foundation, to honour Coach Steve, organized by Sarah Lopez and Heather Evans, along with Joshua Lopez, Liam Muffitt, and George Daly of the Humber Valley Sharks. “Buck-A-Puck for ALS was a way to channel all the emotion experienced as Steve was challenged by the disease – to show the kids that there is always a way to help, even if it seems like there is nothing you can do,” Heather explains.

After just the first year, the team had raised more than $90,000 within a small Etobicoke community – a true testament to the power of coming together. “What we’ve already accomplished through Buck-A-Puck speaks to what can happen in the future – there is a lot of potential with what it can achieve to make a change,” Liam says. To take their grassroots fundraiser to the next level, the team partnered with ALS Canada in 2023 evolving to a nation-wide initiative as the ALS Canada Buck-A-Puck for ALS.

With support from hockey players and fans across Canada, taking their shot at the net to change what it means to live with ALS, Buck-A-Puck for ALS got one step closer to the ultimate goal of $1 million raised for ALS research. In 2023, thanks to a passionate hockey community and a shared commitment to creating a world free of ALS, Buck-A-Puck for ALS raised $60,000 and counting! ALS Canada is excited to continue to work alongside the Buck-A-Puck organizers – fostering the growth of this passionate initiative, uniting a love for hockey with the desire to make a difference to create a lasting impact in the fight against this debilitating disease.

Evoking change through connection

The impact of an ALS diagnosis is unrelenting. Navigating a reality no one chooses but is forced to face, the accompanying challenges can feel isolating.

At ALS Canada, we believe in the power of storytelling. Creating the space to share lived experiences and invite conversation to generate real impact. Impact in fostering a sense of connection to remind you that you are not alone while navigating ALS and educating others about the realities of living with the disease, inspiring them to get involved. In 2023, we shared the stories of our communities, highlighting the realities of living with the disease and the urgent need for change during for our “While I still can…” campaign.

ALS community members who shared their stories in 2023, including Mehboob (left), Chris, and Sandra

Community members Mehboob, Sandra, and Chris shared their experiences of their lives changed by ALS. Honest, direct displays of the impact of this devastating disease not only creating awareness, but also illustrating that we’re in this together. In the midst of raising funds for a world free of ALS during Giving Tuesday and the holiday season, our community raised their voices on social media in response to the experiences shared. Offering words of support, reflection, and hope – uniting us.

During our “While I still can…” campaign, we witnessed, as Mehboob explains, “what collective compassion and commitment can achieve.” The stories of lived experience and the truth of what people living with ALS and their families are going through drove involvement and commitment for a difference raising more than $605,000 in generous donations. A testament to the power of storytelling, our truths, and that we are not alone – there is a community right here.

Learn more about our work in 2023 by exploring our latest annual report.

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