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Runners Will Lace Up To Raise Money For ALS

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FIESTA 5K
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Ron Matz is an Emmy award-winning reporter who joined the Eyewitness...
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 BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s no treatment or cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. But Saturday morning, hundreds of people will lace up their running shoes in Baltimore to raise money for research for the disease.

Ron Matz has more on a different kind of fiesta, one that means so much to so many.

Andy Nelson, 38, was diagnosed a few months ago with ALS. Saturday at Power Plant Live!, he’ll join hundreds of others for the Fiesta 5K Run to raise money for ALS research.

“I was diagnosed a few months ago, so this is a great opportunity to be a part of the Fiesta 5K as a way to take action right away. It gave my family, friends and co-workers an opportunity to help do something and raise money for this cause. I’m OK. It’s a progressive disease. Right now I’m coping with it,” said Nelson. “My wife and her best friend set up ‘Team Nelly.’ We had a goal of $1,500. I think we’ve raised close to $20,000 and that’s only been about a month and a half, so that’s pretty powerful.”

Former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance went public with his diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease three years ago.

“This is our 5th Annual Fiesta 5K. It raises money for the Packard Center, which is a research institution at Johns Hopkins University focused on Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS. We have 1,700 runners coming out tomorrow, And so far we’ve raised almost $250,000, which is a record,” said Suzie Connelly, Fiesta 5K Race Director. “It’s amazing; the response to this race has been great. We have 75 teams signed up and that’s really the heart of this race. The people that are committed to ALS research, they get their friends and families involved and they’re all coming out tomorrow.”

There’s no treatment or cure for ALS, but there’s hope in research at the Hopkins Packard Center.

“We are moving forward quickly. We have new animal models that mimic the disease which eventually will hopefully help us find the cause and the mechanisms of ALS. We do clinical trials going on and we do stem cell research now. A recent symposium here was breathtaking,” said Dr. Rita Sattler, Johns Hopkins University. “The Packard Center gives money out to researchers all over the country and internationally. So the money raised here with the race is going to go to these researchers and they do ALS research in their labs. They focus on finding the mechanisms and cause of ALS.”

Brigance and his wife Chanda are co-chairs for the race.

“O.J. Brigance is a former Raven who was on the Ravens Super Bowl team. He was diagnosed with ALS several years ago. He and his wife Chanda are our honorary chairs and they’re just so inspirational,” said Connelly. “O.J. will be here tomorrow, he can’t wait. He greets the fans, he still goes into the office every day. He inspires players, people with ALS and everyone on the street.”

Ravens Coach John Harbaugh will also be there.

You can still register for the Fiesta 5K by clicking here.

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