Third annual ALS golf tournament raises money to find a cure

Jennifer Langlois and her husband, Jason, stand by a shirt that memorializes Jennifer’s father, John Coolidge.

Jennifer Langlois and her husband, Jason, stand by a shirt that memorializes Jennifer’s father, John Coolidge. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

— Since last August, 80 cases of ALS were diagnosed throughout the North Country.

To contribute to finding a cure, 44 teams of four took part in the golf tournament, and an auction that featured such hot-ticket items as locally made Adirondack chairs and quilts, and signed sports memorabilia, including a 1999 World Series Derek Jeter jersey autographed by Jeter, was attended by more than 100 people.

Behind the auction tent, 42 metal frames were donned by T-shirts, each with the face of someone who has died from ALS on the front.

The T-shirts help give the disease an identity, and each one represents a reason why volunteers and doctors think there is a need to raise money, and awareness, to combat ALS.

The money raised at the event was matched by an anonymous donor and given to Massachusetts General Hospital’s neuroscience center, which is dedicated to finding a cure for ALS and Hudington’s disease.

Dr. Merit Cudkowicz was one of three representatives of the research on hand to thank attendees and inform them about the research the team is conducting.

Cudkowicz acknowledged that there is a high incidence of ALS in the region, and that no one is sure why.

There is a theory, though.

Two groups, one at University of Vermont and the other at Dartmouth College, N.H., are studying the correlation between the North Country and an area in France where a large number of people have also been diagnosed with ALS.

Much like many locations in the North Country, the town is near a lake that has experienced increasing amounts of cyano bacteria, or blue algae, blooms.

Although nothing is conclusive, research is being conducted to determine whether the blue algae blooms might somehow be connected to ALS.

Until a cause, whether genetic or environmental, is determined, Cudkowicz stressed that diagnosing ALS early on is important to improving quality of life.

“Weakness, twitching and atrophy of muscles are not necessarily ALS, but they are symptoms of it,” Cudkowicz said. “Twelve months from the first symptom to diagnosis is too long.”

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