Marathoner raises $3,500 for ALS


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KAMLOOPS and VICTORIA - Sandy Heimlich-Hall, the assistant news director/assignment editor at CFJC-TV7, CIFM-98.3, B-100 in Kamloops raised $3,500 this weekend running the Royal Victoria half-marathon, dedicated to her colleague, ENG cameraman Clayton Smailes.

Smailes is one of the TV station's four ENG/cameramen and was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - last year. ALS is a particularly malevolent disease. It is a neurodegenerative disease that usually attacks both upper and lower motor neurons and causes degeneration throughout the brain and spinal cord. A common first symptom is a painless weakness in a hand, foot, arm or leg, which occurs in more than half of all cases. Other early symptoms include speech, swallowing or walking difficulty.

Basically, the disease robs those afflicted by it of everything a body normally does, bit by bit, but leaves brain function untouched, so its sufferers are all too aware of what's happening.

Smailes was among the youngest in Canada to be diagnosed, as he was 29 when he was diagnosed last year. While he is taking an experimental drug to slow the disease's progress, there is no cure for ALS.

"The response to the run was so much better than I had hoped," said Heimlich-Hall in an e-mail to "Privately I had hoped to raise $1,500-$2,000. I kept track for a short while, but then decided to stop counting so there'd be a nice surprise at the end.

"Last week I told Clayton I was sure we had at least $1,700. He was thrilled, and so was I. Then I started counting. Man did I underestimate what we had -- $3500!" she added.

"The ALS Society was so happy - they are so grateful for whatever they get. They need research funds so badly."

Despite fighting off a virus, Heimlich-Hall finished the 21 km race in 2:28:03, just under her goal of two hours and thirty minutes.

"I woke up Sunday morning feeling FANTASTIC," she said. "It was like the powers that be had smiled down and said, 'Go for it. Do it for Clayton.' So I did. It was a gorgeous day, the scenery was incredible.

"I am so proud of everyone who got behind this," added Heimlich-Hall. "I can't even begin to tell you how good all of the supporters made Clayton and I feel. People cared, and they responded. And because of that we are making a difference. In fact, because ALS gets so little they have teamed up with Parkinsons and MS in the research filed (all are neurodegenerative diseases), so for every dollar we raised it's liked we raised three. It feels good.

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Approve all three?  
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Approve one or both of the satellite options?  
Approve none?