Marla Dahlke says she was like “a deer in the headlights” when doctors told her she had ALS last year. She’s since had time to process that information, adapt to her new reality, and reconnect with her resilient inner voice. “You can only feel sorry for yourself for so long and even you get sick of it,” she explains with a chuckle. “I don’t have my head in the sand. I just figure I’m going to live every day as best I can.”

Marla attributes her positive attitude to her success in overcoming other hard blows she’s had to confront during her lifetime, including melanoma in her 20’s, a divorce, the pain of never having had children, and depression in her 40’s. Her perspective on life helps her keep moving forward – one day at a time.

She enjoys her hobbies – painting, reading, doing puzzles – and staying in touch with friends. Marla is also participating in her first Walk to End ALS on June 21st, Global ALS Awareness Day, to help raise awareness about ALS. “It’s important to get the word out because people don’t really know much about ALS,” she says. “Even though it’s so devastating, ALS doesn’t have the same exposure of some of the other better-known diseases out there.”

Marla is excited about the virtual Walk to End ALS on June 21st. She doesn’t worry that the event will be held virtually for the first time because attending in person would have been challenging. “While I wait for a scooter or a wheelchair, I rely on my walker from ALS Canada to get around,” she says, “and that really limits how far I can go these days. Besides, most of my friends live too far away to drive to the location where the event would have taken place, so doing this online works out fine for me.”

Online fundraising has been a positive experience. “There have been some lovely surprises,” says Marla, “considering how hard it is for people financially in the midst of a pandemic.” She hopes the event will be an unparalleled success, despite the obvious challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.

ALS Canada is a 100% donor-funded health charity which means every dollar raised by individuals is vital for ensuring that promising Canadian ALS research receives the support it deserves. For Canadians like Marla, it is the only assured pathway to effective treatments that can slow or even stop the disease.

Every year, 40% of net funds from the Walk to End ALS go towards the ALS Canada Research Program. This year, there’s even more good news. ALS Canada’s partner, Brain Canada, is matching 40% of funds raised through the Walk for this purpose.

Living on her own with ALS is a daunting challenge for Marla that raises many questions about the future. And yet, she is busy working for the greater good, doing what she can to accelerate the pace of ALS research. This the spirit of resilience that keeps the ALS community determined and strong. One thing is for sure. ALS doesn’t stop. And neither will we!


The Walk to End ALS is the largest volunteer-led fundraiser for ALS Societies across Canada. Your fundraising efforts and generous donations support the best ALS research in Canada and enable ALS Societies to provide community-based support to people and families living with the disease. In 2020, the Walk is going virtual for the first time ever! Register and start fundraising today at