Troy Peverley (left to right)

Golfers ready to take swing at ALS

Teams from Langley's Belmont and Hazelmere golf courses will be teeing off in support of those affected by ALS

One thing Michelle Lindsay remembers fondly is the smile on her mother’s face.

While her mother, Lucille Hansen, battled ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) — or Lou Gehrig’s Disease as it is also known — for two and a half years, she always smiled for her family.

Hansen passed away in 2010 at the age of 70.

“She was absolutely our hero,” said Lindsay, reflecting on how the family fed off her strength.

“Even now, when we are having a bad day, we will remember her for inspiration.”

It is stories like these which made it an easy decision for Belmont Golf Course to get involved with the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) of B.C. Golfathon for ALS.

Forty golf courses across  B.C. — including Belmont and Hazelmere Golf and Tennis Club — are behind the event.

Throughout the month of June, golfers at the participating courses will be on the course from sunrise to sunset to support those living with ALS.

The two local courses are teeing off on Monday (June 24).

ALS is a rapidly progressive fatal condition which attacks the brain and spinal cord, wasting away the pathways the body needs to transmit signals to the body. When they receive no signals, nerve cells die and leave the muscles paralyzed. Patients gradually lose the ability to move, eat or speak as their bodies waste away and their muscles atrophy.

“(This cause) is near and dear to my heart,” Lindsay said.

“It is a horrific, terrible disease.”

Lindsay described her mother’s fight as leaving her family with a feeling of helplessness as they tried to stay on top of a disease that is so relentless.

They would get one issue resolved and then another symptom would pop up.

“It just keeps knocking you down,” she said.

Another one of the terrible things about the disease is it does not affect the patients’ ability to think even as their body deteriorates.

“That is the most horrible thing,” Lindsay said.

“You are fully aware of what is happening (to your body). It is very, very scary, you are just laying in bed waiting.

“That helplessness that you feel, and you can’t do anything,” she added.

Lindsay is a bookkeeper at Belmont. And while she won’t be golfing herself in Monday’s event, her co-workers will be.

The Belmont team is made up of Lance Connell (food and beverage manager), Mike Café (club member), Troy Peverley (regional general manager for the West Coast Golf Group) and Jason Thompson (grounds crew).

The Hazelmere team consists of Graham Ogden, Callum Robinson, Wade Davies and Aaron Varlow.

Connell has an uncle who is battling a form of ALS.

His uncle, who is 70, has fought the disease for the past seven years, and recently took a turn for the worse.

He can barely speak, breath, and has very limited mobility.

“It is just horrible,” Connell described.

“So when the opportunity arose, we jumped on it,” he said.

Café’s sister passed away from multiple sclerosis (MS) — which has some similarities to ALS — at age of 52. He also lost a friend at age 48 to ALS, and another friend’s father to the disease.

“It was a no-brainer to support,” Café said, adding that he has been blown away by the generosity of people so far.

The money raised will help support those living with ALS.

“Without that (support) I don’t know how I would have gotten through what I did,” Lindsay admits.

“They (ALS Society of B.C. support team) were phenomenal. They walked me through things, calmed me down.

“And the people that we met along the way have just been incredible.”

The golfers will tee off bright and early Monday morning and cram in as many holes of golf as they can.

“From the crack of dawn until our arms fall off,” joked Connell.

The foursome figures they should be able to get in four full rounds, which is 72 holes, although they heard their Hazelmere counterparts are planning to play 108 holes, which is six rounds.

The group is accepting pledges, which can be done online by clicking here for the Belmont team and here for the Hazelmere team.

They are also selling 50/50 tickets with three prizes: cash, golf for four with a cart at Belmont, and golf for two with cart and dinner at Hazelmere.

•••••

This is the eighth year the Golfathon for ALS is being held and it has grown from one single golfer that first year — a golf pro at Comox’s Glacier Greens named Scott Fraser, who played 288 holes that day, raising more than $5,000 — to more than 100 golfers province-wide teeing off.

Once the funds are collected from the 2013 event, the total amount is expected to exceed $1 million, said Wendy Toyer, the executive director for the ALS Society of B.C.

One hundred per cent of the proceeds raised go towards helping those fighting ALS get access to the equipment they need, as well as to support the families and caregivers.

This year, 33 children who have family members fighting the disease will be sent to Camp Alohi Lani — Hawaiian for bright sky — at Camp Zajac in Mission.

This is the third year the ALS Society of B.C. has been able to send kids to the camp, Toyer said.

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