Unlocking ALS—One Step at a Time

The Walk to Defeat ALS® is a colorful event. Team t-shirts from nearly every color of the rainbow dot the landscape, along with hats, shoes, signs. Color is everywhere.

But returning this year along the route, there will be an additional pop of color—a pop of color with a purpose. In 2018 The ALS Association launched Unlock ALS at Walk events to provide participants with a tangible way to recognize the real reasons they Walk to Defeat ALS. At the walks, participants select a lanyard in one of four colors to represent their connection to ALS. These colors represent:

  • Yellow: I have ALS
  • Blue: I Walk in Honor of Someone with ALS
  • White: I’ve Lost Someone to ALS
  • Red: I Support the Cause and Want to Defeat ALS

Participants will also be able to take a moment to write messages to loved ones with ALS or about loved ones lost to ALS on paper keys in the same colors. The keys will be hung in a tribute tent to remind participants of how many loved ones have faced or are currently facing ALS and why their involvement is so important. In addition, participants receive a branded key, and join in a meaningful opening ceremony.

Whichever color, the message behind Unlock ALS is powerful, uniting participants through an experience that builds hope and strengthens common bonds as members of the ALS community.

Pattie Hamlin from the team “Pattie’s Posse” will walk at the Springfield Walk to Defeat ALS with a yellow lanyard. Pattie was diagnosed with ALS in September of 2016. Since that time she has devoted her time to advocating for ALS research and raising money through her walk team. She walks with her friends and family hoping to unlock treatments and a cure for this disease.

“ALS can be beat,” Pattie says. “It takes all of us to build awareness so a cure can be found.”

Summer Nolen from Team “Kent’s Krusaders” wears a blue lanyard because she walks for a family member with ALS. “Kent’s Krusaders” is a team to honor her father Kent Nolen, who has been battling ALS for 18 years. The team comes together to raise awareness about ALS and help fund research to help find a treatment and a cure.

“Being at the walk surrounded by other families fighting the same battle, letting our voices being heard and raising awareness together, makes ALS bearable for those couple hours,” Summer says. “We feel normal. We don’t feel alone or like no one understands.”

The Calmes family wears the white lanyard in memory of family matriarch Jane, who battled the disease for eight years before losing her fight in 2017. They will walk for the 10th time this year in Springfield, and their team “Jane’s Angels” hopes to the pass $750,000 in total money raised.

“The keys and lanyards, with their different colors, symbolize many different connotations for those who wear them,” Mark Calmes says, “but they nonetheless provide a real sense of community and a strong bond among all of us who support and advocate for the cause.”

Melissa Kooman and “Team Numotion” wear red lanyards because they support the fight and the cause. Numotion, a leading provider of power wheelchairs and other complex rehab technology, recently reached an important milestone of more than $1 million in contributions to The ALS Association.

“The more walkers, the better for the mission of the ALS Association,” Melissa says. “Each walk brings us one step closer to a cure! We are all in this together!”

There is still time to register and join us to Walk to Defeat ALS in Springfield, Illinois on June 15 or St. Louis on June 22. Join us and proudly wear you lanyard of yellow, blue, white or red. Be a part of unlocking ALS, and help us in the quest for a cure. For more information visit www.WalkToDefeatALS.org.

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