Ride to Fight ALS comes to Vaudreuil-Soulanges the weekend of August 26-28
PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY
The 9th Annual Ride to Fight ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) will take place August 26 -28 throughout the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region and is has significant meaning for one Hudson family (pictured above, Karen, Stephane, and Kyle Hogue).
Hundreds of cyclists from far and wide will be converging on the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region for three days later this month riding to raise much needed funds to help fight the dreaded disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Perhaps better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease which currently affects almost 3000 Canadians and for which there is no treatment to significantly prolong their lives.
Organized and hosted by the ALS Society of Quebec, it is the ninth annual Ride to Fight ALS powered by TELUS Health which, to date, has raised over $1.2 million for the cause. And this time around, it sure promises to be a particularly emotional event for one Hudson family which, although not actually cycling, will be volunteering their hearts out in whatever capacity they can.
It was in December, 2014, that 53-year-old Stephane Hogue - a technical writer with a West Island software company until March this year when his condition no longer made working possible and who has been actively involved with Cavagnal Scouts for over 10 years - was diagnosed with ALS following two months of intensive testing after experiencing unexplained muscle twitches and tremors in his arm.
“It was like a punch to the gut,” he told Your Local Journal in an interview earlier this week. “I just sat there, completely stunned. To be honest, until then I knew very little, if anything, about ALS. Now, obviously, I know so much more which is why my wife, Karen, and 14-year-old son Kyle, as well as many of our Cavagnal Cub Scouts group will be volunteering on this very special three-day weekend.”
Added Hogue, “Base camp will be at the Château Vaudreuil Hotel and the rides will go through some of the most beautiful regions in our area including, Hudson, St. Lazare, Rigaud, Oka, Oka Park, and Deux-Montagnes. And on the Saturday night, there will also be a special gala event at the hotel called An Evening of Dreams, featuring special guests, such as hockey great Yvon Lambert.”
Said Karen, who works at the CLSC in Vaudreuil-Dorion and who has nothing but praise for the ALS support group hosted by NOVA and the Tony Proudfoot Foundation that she attends on the West Island every month, “We are hoping that the ride will create even greater awareness of this horrible disease which unlike cancer, for example, many people know very little about and for which there is no known cure. In fact, the life expectancy for most people, once diagnosed, is between two and five years.
“It is something that we, as a family, are still learning to live with every day. But I have to tell you, we are really blessed in so many ways. Not only is Stephane's ALS the more slowly evolving type, but we are surrounded by so much love and support from our families, the community at large, our friends in Scouting, and Father Roland Demers and everyone at St. Thomas Aquinas Church.”
Said Hogue, “We have always been so active as a family, going on long hikes and cycling long distances. And we still are. Although with my energy being so low on certain days, the distances are getting ever shorter. But now that I have left work, I am so happy to have been able to spend more quality time with Kyle over the summer. And we are all going to get through this together.”
For the record, ALS is a neuromuscular disorder that affects the nerve cells and spinal cord progressively leading to the paralysis of the muscles. It progresses rapidly and is usually fatal within five years following the initial diagnosis.
Says Renée Myriam Larabie, the ALS association's communications coordinator. “We are so appreciative of Stephane's, Karen's, and Kyle's support and, by contributing towards this event, Your Local Journal readers will help us to further our mission, which is to provide quality services and constant support to people diagnosed with ALS and their families. Their involvement not only helps us raise awareness about the disease and the reality of those living with it, but also helps us fund research to find a treatment and a cure.”
There is still time to sign up for the Ride which runs August 26-28 and for more info the specific itinerary and program, as well as registration, either as an individual or as a team, go to
als-quebec.ca/get-involved/participate/ride-to-fight-als or call Audrey Houle at (514) 725-2653 (ext. 110).