Joe Pacheco has found a way to channel his ALS diagnosis into positivity and a renewed sense of purpose to support others. Having been diagnosed in late 2012, he has been living with the disease for almost six years — time he has used to help raise funds, awareness and hope for a disease with few treatment options and no cure.

Up until recently, Joe’s ALS progression has been relatively slow, but he has started to notice some changes in his speech and ability to use his hands. He has become wheelchair-bound over the past few years, but that hasn’t stopped him from making an impact.

On Saturday May 26, Joe and his family will be participating in the Kingston WALK for ALS, something they have been doing since 2012. Last year, they were one of many teams who helped to raise a collective $66,000 at the WALK for ALS in their community and their resolve for this year’s event is strong as ever.

“I will do anything I can to support ALS Canada because I feel and I hope that someday there will be a cure for this disease,” says Joe.

Jose Pacheco posing with three young woman at ALS support groupThis commitment to supporting the cause doesn’t end with the WALK for ALS. Joe faithfully attends ALS Canada’s support group in his community, where he is quick to offer encouraging words and compassion to other people and families in attendance.

Following the WALK for ALS, Joe will be hosting his own ALS fundraiser to rally the community together in a shared cause. Between 200 and 250 people are expected to join Joe and his family at their local Portuguese Hall on July 28, donating all proceeds to ALS Canada.

“Everyone in the community has a part to play in assisting people in their day-to-day lives with ALS,” says Joe’s son, John. “Events like the WALK for ALS are critical in knowing that we’re not alone. It’s not just about the people living with the disease, but their friends and families, too. It’s an opportunity to talk, share experiences and walk this path we’re on together.”

On May 26, Joe will be joined at the WALK for ALS by his wife, Brazelina, his son and daughter in-law, John and Lara, and his granddaughters, Clarissa, Emma, Tonya and Sophia.

“The WALK for ALS is a wonderful way to highlight and celebrate the beauty of life at all stages,” says Clarissa. “It reinforces an important truth that those living with ALS still have purpose and dignity, and can accept their diagnosis with courage and heroism.”

While he doesn’t anticipate a cure in his lifetime, Joe accepts every opportunity to teach others about ALS and raise funds for future generations.

“My advice to anyone affected by ALS is to keep participating in events like the WALK for ALS,” says Joe. “And always stay positive.”

The WALK for ALS takes place in over 90 communities across Canada until September 2018. Register or donate to a WALK near you at Donations for all WALK for ALS events are being accepted until December 31, 2018.

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