Colin Atkinson assumed his ankle was twisted from a match of tennis after he experienced a substantial amount of weakness, that caused him to trip and fall. But as the weakness persisted, he sought out a neurologist, thinking a nerve was pinched in his back. After multiple appointments, tests, scans and bloodwork, Atkinson was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Originally, after the diagnosis, a sense of embarrassment filled Atkinson. He would trip and fall in public, and bystanders would get confused. He realizes how difficult it is to explain to someone who is watching the disease happen right in front of them. By participating in the ALS Society of Canada’s Walk to End ALS in Sault St. Marie, Atkinson hopes to encourage people to help each other in times of struggle, and live life to the fullest.
“ALS is a very complicated and unknown disease,” said Atkinson. “If you have ALS, it might be 10 years, it might be six months. There is no timeline for it. You must do what you can when you can. Go out and enjoy life.”
This will be the first walk that Atkinson is participating in. He plans to cross the finish line on his own two feet. For the remainder of the walk, his partner, Kirsty, and members of her workplace will represent him.
The walk, happening June 25th at Roberta Bondar Park, in his eyes, is a crucial fundraiser for the ALS Society of Canada, an organization that’s been beneficial in his journey. He understands that research is a slow process. But as awareness increases, so does that research.
“It might not save me, but it could save the next person.”
The Walk to End ALS is more than a fundraiser. It is a safe space and family-friendly event for community members to honour loved ones lost to the disease and support people who live with or are affected by ALS daily. Forty per cent of proceeds are directed to the national ALS Canada Research Program where they are invested in the best ALS research in Canada awarded annually following a peer-reviewed competition.