Davenporters rally for ALS walk

AmandaShadiack_ALSWalk-1
Photo by Amanda Shadiack.

About 40 Davenporters, including Dean Ryan Brasseaux and several other members of the Davenport administration, joined Boy Scouts and bagpipers at the Walk to Defeat ALS at New Haven’s Lighthouse Point on Sunday morning.

The Davenport contingent joined the family and friends of Davenport Operations Manager Carolyn Haller on team “Quince and the Mechanicals” to support Haller’s ongoing battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable illness known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Quince and the Mechanicals raised $5,510 out of a total $75,000 donated to the Connecticut chapter of the ALS Association, which organized the walk.

“I don’t feel like the luckiest person in the world,” said Haller, who has worked in Davenport for three years. “But I have the best friends, family and co-workers.”

Haller’s network of donors and supporters present at the race Sunday included family, friends and co-workers from across the country: from New Haven and New York to California and Maine.

Jimmy Murphy ’13 and Nathaniel Zelinsky ’13, co-chairmen of Davenport’s Social Activities Committee, recruited Davenport students for the walk. But the Davenporters were just one of several groups who attended the walk and collected donations for the ALS Association.

Sandi Arminio, a West Haven resident and participant on the “A Loving Step” team, said many groups walk in memory of a loved one who has already died from ALS. Arminio said she walked in honor of her life partner of 21 years, Patricia Galla, who died from the disease in 1999.

An old family friend who died from ALS in the 1980s inspired Jen Thomas to become involved with the Connecticut chapter of the ALS Association, for which she now serves as an event coordinator.

Thomas said 560 people preregistered for the walk, and another 200 registered on site just before the event began Sunday morning.

Though many said a desire to support Haller brought them to the walk, Davenporters cited a diverse range of reasons for participating in the Walk to Defeat ALS.

“This walk is a good event for Davenport, and I’ve never been to Lighthouse Point,” said Kat Lau ’13. “I also wanted to show support for Carolyn.”

Lau said she has no other connection to ALS aside from knowing Haller.

Laura Munoz ’15 said she participated because she thought the walk was “a good way to get involved in Davenport College life and meet people.”

ALS wasn’t the only cause on participants’ minds Sunday: Event organizers said they elected to hold the Walk to Defeat ALS on Sept. 11. Before the walk began, a group of Boy Scouts raised a flag over the park featuring the names of those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“On September 11th, as we are honoring all the courageous men and women who lost their lives during the attacks, so too should we honor all the men and women fighting this disease,” said Chris Capobianco, president of the board of directors of the Connecticut chapter of the ALS Association.

By the end of the day, the event raised $75,000 for the Connecticut chapter to finance research and provide free counseling services to Connecticut ALS patients and their families.

Haller expressed her deep gratitude for her friends and Davenport family who attended the event.

“I wish to thank everybody who came out, gave a donation or supported me,” Haller said. “Everyone has been incredibly generous, lifted my spirits and made facing this diagnosis a lot easier.”

The ALS Association will hold similar walks in New Britain on Sept. 24, and in Westport on Oct. 16.

Comments