CHELSEA – When ALS resident Melissa King participates in the 11th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living on Sunday, Oct. 6, she’ll be celebrating a special achievement. Being able to plant a garden seemed impossible to Melissa, 49, after she was diagnosed with ALS in 2014. Melissa cannot speak or walk and has very limited use of her arms/hands. Yet through sheer determination – and a little help from her friends at the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL) – Melissa was able to turn her dream into reality. This past summer she oversaw the planting and maintenance of three vibrant vegetable, herb and flower community gardens.
“The Center provided me with a strong support system while enabling me to be independent,” said Melissa, who called the independence that she and and other residents of LFCL with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis) “an incredibly precious gift.”
The 11th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living will help raise funds for the care of these inspiring individuals. The Walk for Living will take place at 10 a.m. on Oct. 6 at 165 Captains Row in Chelsea.
Expected to attract over 1,000 walkers, the two-mile walk has become a popular family-friendly event in the Greater Boston area. Over the past 11 years, the event has raised almost $2 million. Operated by the non-profit Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, the Leonard Florence Center for Living cares for more individuals with ALS than any place else in the world. “The Walk for Living brings together a community of passionate, caring individuals,” said Barry Berman, chief executive officer of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “I have been amazed at the support of our local communities, businesses, families, friends and, of course, the residents themselves. Their zest for living inspires us every single day.”
What’s so unique about the Center is that residents, many of whom are completely immobilized, can control lights, turn on the TV, call for the elevator, open doors and raise window shades, all with help of a computer and sensor that tracks head and eye movements for instruction. In essence, they can control anything with an on and off switch with their eyes, allowing them to move freely through the entire residence. The Leonard Florence Center for Living is the country’s first urban model Green House® skilled nursing facility.
This year’s Walk for Living will honor Phyllis and Alan Bolotin. As long-time residents of the North Shore, they have contributed to organizations for years through their generosity, time, passion and dedication. “Phyllis and I are so proud to be involved with the Leonard Florence Center for Living and the 2019 Walk for Living,” said Alan Bolotin. “The Leonard Florence Center residents continuously inspire us. It is our fervent hope that this event will raise funds and awareness about living with ALS and MS today.”
Radio personality Matt Siegel, host of “Matty in the Morning” on KISS 108, will once again act as emcee to kick-off the walk. Major corporate sponsors include Lundgren Management, M&T Bank and Patients Like Me. The Independent Newspaper Group continues to be the media sponsor. Immediately following the walk will be a BBQ hosted by Chili’s, face painting, live dance performances, a petting zoo, a photo booth and a raffle. The $20 donation fee to participate includes a Walk for Living tee shirt, BBQ and all activities.
“I am honored to emcee the 11th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living,” said Matt Siegel. “Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the amazing residents at the Leonard Florence Center. Their incredible courage, strength, humor and love of life are an inspiration to us all.”
Registration begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6. The Walk for Living is one of the few walks that are dog friendly. To start or sponsor a team or to make a donation, please visit walkforliving.org or contact Walk Director Maura Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-409-8973.