A group of 64 Davenport College students pounded the pavement at the annual New Haven Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Walk Sunday morning and raised over $500 in donations for research.
Two buses took the students from Davenport to Lighthouse Point Park, where around 700 people took part in the three-mile walk. The students joined the walk to show their support for Davenport Operations Manager Carolyn Haller, who is currently battling ALS — a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the body’s ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe.
Students cheered and clapped for Haller during the walk, which lasted from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and saw a record number of participants from both Yale and the Elm City.
According to Jimmy Murphy ’13, one of the organizers of the Davenport group, the event marks the second year that students from the college have participated in the walk. The students joined Haller and her friends’ fundraising team “Quince and the Mechanicals,” which raised $1,660 this year, according to the ALS Connecticut Chapter website.
“Basically the point is to have people there and to have a presence,” Murphy said, adding that he would “absolutely come back and do it again next year.”
Nathaniel Zelinsky ’13, another organizer of the group, said the college raised over $250 in the days before the walk via student donations that were collected in a jar in the college’s dining hall. Davenport College Master Richard Schottenfeld ’71 MED ’76 matched the donation, totaling $500 donated toward fighting ALS.
“There are times when our community can stand up and transcend being more than just a collection of people living together,” Zelinsky said in a college-wide email before the walk.
Students left the Yale campus at around 9:30 a.m. for the park, wearing Davenport shirts and carrying the college’s flag to show their support for Haller.
“I’m participating because it’s a great cause,” said Bethany Goodhue ’16. “And it’s really not that hard to get out of bed on a Sunday morning for something so worthwhile.”
The opportunity to have fun and socialize with friends during the walk was also part of the appeal for some students. Joyce Chen ’16 said she was participating in the walk because she wanted to take part in the college’s student community and because it was one of the first events of the year that Davenport hosted.
Murphy called the students’ participation in the walk a “lasting event” that he hopes will continue on next year, especially since Davenport students “have a personal connection” with ALS.
“Our goal is to maximize support for Carolyn Haller and the fight against ALS,” said Zelinsky. “We’ll keep doing that whatever way we can.”
According to the Walk to Defeat ALS website, approximately 165 walks are held across the country each year to support ALS research. Over $12 million has been raised this year alone toward eliminating ALS, and the events have raised $137 million since 2000.