Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger Takes the Lead as the National Honorary Spokesperson for the ALS Societies' Across Canada WALK for ALS

MARKHAM, ON, April 19, 2016 /CNW/ - Six months ago, Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger was running in the federal election, continuing his dedication of over 20 years to serving his constituents in the riding of Ottawa-Vanier. His life changed November 2015, when he was diagnosed with the terminal disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's. Although ALS has taken away his ability to speak, it has not taken away his voice or commitment to help others. Bélanger is refocusing his energy, partnering with the ALS Societies across Canada and taking on the role as the National Honorary Spokesperson for the WALK for ALS.

"I am pleased to be the National Honorary Spokesperson for the WALK for ALS, to draw attention to the ALS cause and to have the opportunity to make a difference," said Bélanger, speaking through an assistive device. "I call on everyone to join me and to participate in a WALK in their community, so that support for people living with ALS is available today, and critical research is funded, providing hope for the future."

With a goal of $4 million, the WALK for ALS will be held in 93 communities across Canada. 60% of the proceeds are retained by the ALS Society in each province and used to assist people living with ALS and their families through one on one contact, access to resources, support groups, education materials, and provision of medical equipment. 40% of the proceeds fund the ALS Canada Research Program, with investment in peer reviewed competitions, funding the most promising ALS research in Canada.

"The ALS Societies fulfill a critical role when a person is faced with the realities of a diagnosis of ALS, which impacts the entire family," explains Catherine Bélanger, wife of Mr. Bélanger, "It means a lot to our family to be able to help the ALS Community through our support for the WALK for ALS."

"We are grateful to have the Bélanger family work alongside us and to have Mr. Bélanger be the National Honorary Spokesperson for the WALK for ALS," said Tammy Moore, CEO ALS Canada. "This nation-wide program provides vital funds to allow the ALS Societies in each province across Canada to carry out their work assisting people living with ALS and continues our commitment to investment in the most progressive and promising research to make ALS a treatable disease."

ALS is a terminal neurodegenerative disease. With no cure, or treatment available, over the course of two to five years, patients experience paralyses throughout the body as the nerve cells that control movement die, and eventually compromise the ability to breathe. 

To join Mr. Bélanger, and the 3000 other Canadians like him, in his fight against ALS, register for one of the 93 WALK for ALS events taking place across the country at www.walkforals.ca.

About the WALK for ALS
The WALK for ALS is a nation-wide fundraiser supporting the nine ALS Societies across Canada, held in 93 communities across the country from May to September. With a goal of $4 million, 60% of the proceeds are used in each province to support people living with ALS and their families through one on one contact, support groups, education materials, and provision of medical equipment. 40% of the proceeds fund the ALS Canada Research Program, with investment in rigorous, peer reviewed competitions for the most promising ALS research in Canada.

About ALS
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease where the motor neurons that control your muscles die. The 'living wires' which connect your brain to your muscles degenerate, leading to a loss of mobility and speech and eventually impact the ability to breathe. ALS is terminal, there is no cure or an effective treatment. In Canada, approx. 2500-3000 people are living with ALS; 1000 will succumb to the disease and 1000 will be newly diagnosed each year. The lifespan after diagnosis is on average two to five years.

About Mauril Bélanger
Mauril Bélanger was born and raised in the town of Mattawa, in mid-north Ontario. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ottawa. First elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier in a by-election in February 1995, Mauril has been re-elected at every election since. He and his wife Catherine live in Ottawa.

SOURCE ALS Canada

Image with caption: "Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger Takes the Lead as the National Honorary Spokesperson for the ALS Societies' Across Canada WALK for ALS. (CNW Group/ALS Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160419_C2693_PHOTO_EN_668253.jpg

Image with caption: "ALS Canada (CNW Group/ALS Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160419_C2693_PHOTO_EN_668046.jpg

For further information: Rebecca Grima, Director of Marketing & Communications 905.248.2052 x234 rg@als.ca

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