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Wildcats fight to defeat Lou Gehrig's Disease

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Emily Jones / Arizona Daily Wildcat Several teams as well as UA cheerleaders and Wilbur the wildcat, gather at Reid Park to participate in and support the Lou Gehrigs Disease Walk. People dressed as zombies partake in the 4th annual Zombie Walk, where this year, the theme was from the 80's. The walk that began downtown and traveled up Fourth Avenue and back, featured a food drive and vendor tables.

UA students showed their community spirit on Saturday at the Walk to Defeat ALS at Reid Park.


ALS, is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease after the popular baseball player was diagnosed with it.

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Gehrig was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Columbia University, and they adopted the ALS Association as their philanthropy in the ‘90s, according to Matt Yanez, an aerospace engineering junior and new member educator for Phi Delta Theta at the UA. Members of the fraternity were volunteering at the walk.


""We've been doing this yearly,"" Yanez said. ""We also put on other events for ALS like a concert in our backyard, and we're working on a city-wide golf tournament open to the public like this event.""


Four members of the UA cheerleading squad were present, as well as Wilbur the Wildcat.


""We're always excited to see UA cheerleaders and Wilbur,"" Yanez said.


The cheerleaders and Wilbur were invited to join in the festivities by Laura Cech, one of the organizers of the walk.


""The cheerleaders are kind of mingling and energizing everybody and being a part of the celebration for a cure,"" Cech said. ""One of the reasons we like to have university involvement is because we have a lot of university students who are involved.""


The cheerleaders were more than happy to be part of the event.


""We're here to support the walk, cheering on the walkers and getting everyone pumped up on a such as beautiful day,"" said Amanda Berg, a pre-nursing junior and UA cheerleader. ""And to be part of the Tucson community.""


The accounting professional fraternity Beta Alpha Psi participated by running a raffle booth. ""Our advisor Karen Otto had someone she knew that had ALS so she encouraged us to do it last year,"" said Kelly Campbell president of the fraternity. ""Last year we just did the walk, this year we wanted to volunteer.""


One of the teams walking this year was organized in honor of a UA graduate and former employee, Mike Wetzel.


Mike Wetzel graduated with a degree in business and education and was a 17-year employee of dining services before he died in June of 2005, according to Alan Wetzel, Mike Wetzel father and UA part-time employee in dining services.


""Our team has been around for seven years and has grown every year,"" Wetzel said.


""The walk itself has grown from less than 100 people the first year to over 700 people this year.""


In Highland Market, a plaque hangs that is dedicated to Mike Wetzel's service to the UA, Cech, Mike Wetzel's sister, said.


Team Dobson is named for Velma Dobson an ophthalmology professor at the UA who works at home.


""She is renowned in the world of ophthalmology and has ALS and has a team that walks for her,"" Cech said.



Each team hopes to raise money from the walk.


Phi Delta Theta hoped to raise $1,200 and met their goal, Yanez said.


Mike's Wildcat Walkers hoped to get $8,000 and raised approximately $20,000 this year, Wetzel said.


The overall goal of the walk is $100,000 and before Saturday they had raised over $57,000. The money from the actual event has not yet been tallied.

 


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Daily (11/24)
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Includes tests since August 2, 2021
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Updated November 24, 2021