CHELSEA – Steve Saling and Patrick O’Brien were given two to five years to live after each was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Defying all odds, they have been living at the Leonard Florence Center for Living for the past 13 years, since the Center opened its doors. Both are living full, productive lives; Steve has traveled throughout the country speaking about ALS and Patrick produced “Transfatty Lives,” a documentary about ALS which won the Tribecca Film Festival Audience Award. The Leonard Florence Center for Living takes care of more individuals living with ALS than any place else in the world.
In support of these inspiring residents at the Center, Former Governor Charlie Baker and his wife Lauren Baker will act as walk ambassadors at the 15th Annual ALS & MS Walk for Living on Sunday, Oct. 15. The two-mile walk enables the ALS and MS (multiple sclerosis) residents as well as other attendees to participate in wheelchairs with ventilators or by foot.
“We are thrilled to have Governor Baker and Mrs. Baker on board as our ambassadors for this year’s Walk for Living,” said Barry Berman, chief executive officer of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, the nonprofit that operates the award-winning center. “Mrs. Baker visited the center and met the residents. It was obvious how moved she was by the experience. We are grateful for the Bakers’ support and participation in our major fundraising initiative of the year.”
“I am in awe of the spirit, determination, and passion of these residents,” said Lauren Baker. “Charlie and I are proud to act as the ambassadors for the ALS & MS Walk for Living. The residents are truly an inspiration to us all.”
As the country’s first urban model Green House® skilled nursing facility, the Leonard Florence Center provides a level of independence not typically found in other skilled nursing facilities. Residents, many of whom are completely immobilized, control lights, turn on the TV, call for the elevator, and open doors with help of a computer and sensor that tracks head and eye movements. The Stein Family Center for Well-Being, the only Green House ventilator program in the country, opened within the Center in 2020.
Following the dog-friendly walk, there will be a barbeque hosted by Chili’s, face painting, live dance performances, a petting zoo and more. The $20 donation fee includes a Walk for Living T-shirt as well as all food and activities.
The 2023 Walk for Living will take place at 10 a.m. on Oct. 15 at 165 Captains Row on Admiral’s Hill in Chelsea. Every dollar raised will go toward patient care and programs for ALS and MS residents. To register, go to the Walk for Living website and click on “register.” To join Governor Baker and Lauren Baker’s team, please go Team Baker and make a donation to their team.
Platinum level sponsors include M&T Banks and Wilmington Trust; Gold Level A.H.O.H.; Independent Newspaper Group is the media sponsor.