The ALS Association gave us “A Walk to Remember”


Photo provided by: Kyla Justiniani

Let’s find a cure for ALS! Roger that?

Sydney Rosario, Staff Writer

My all-time favorite coming-of-age romantic movie is “A Walk to Remember” by the most overrated underrated author, Nicholas Sparks. He has a way with words that makes your heart ache and forces blurry vision for the entirety of his movies. Whether it is “The Notebook,” “The Last Song,” “Dear John,” or many others in his repertoire, Sparks creates storylines where the characters jump seemingly impossible hurdles. However, no matter how painful and detrimental each circumstance may be, every character grows in great strength and love. “A Walk to Remember” particularly moves me because it follows two unpredictable lovers, Jamie and Landon. Jamie has been diagnosed with cancer, and a memorable walk alters the lovebirds’ relationship for the remainder of the movie.

Their walk signified their constant love no matter what obstacles they faced. Though a heart-wrencher, this movie is an example of illness causing the familiar to change to the unknown instantly. Similarly, for my family, ALS flipped our world upside down.

ALS, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a nervous system disease that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing numbness and loss of muscle control.

Three years ago, my uncle was diagnosed with ALS, an incurable disease that takes the lives of those afflicted too soon. He abruptly passed away last January. Not only does this disease paralyze its victims, but it affects the families and those close to them. Going from entirely healthy to using a cane, to a walker, to a wheelchair in a matter of months was terrible to watch and even more painful to endure. Lizelle Justiniani ’03 says, “Watching your dad your hero suffer and eventually pass from ALS is the hardest thing I have ever had to face.” ALS devastated the family, as even moments of progress meant glimpses of optimism, hope, and strength in trying times.

Lizelle Justiniani ’03 showing off her ring after being proposed to on Lou Gehrig Day with her family at her side. (Photo provided by: Kyla Justiniani)

Last Saturday, Nov. 12, I participated in the Walk to Defeat ALS. Even though the week prior was freezing in temperatures, Saturday morning was perfect: the perfect weather with the perfect company. The walk was not arduous, as participants included ALS warriors as well. Scattered throughout the pathway were pictures of those who were lost due to ALS. The pictures symbolized a sense of solidarity, as everyone who participated walked for change, walked for a cure. Lizelle recalls her emotions when her Dad was in battle: “Feelings of loneliness and feeling like you are the only family going through this was a recurring theme. However, the ALS association helped put those feelings to rest through the constant support and encouragement they showed us. Participating in the ALS walk gave us a sense of camaraderie, a sense of love, understanding, and hope from the very people who know firsthand how heartbreaking this disease is.”

My uncle’s picture, showing what he did best: giving words of wisdom. (Photo provided by: Kyla Justiniani)

I accompanied my cousins and aunt, who invited me to the walk in the first place. Kyla Justiniani ’07 recalls,  “The ALS Walk was an awesome experience overall. Although it was very emotional for my family and me, we are thankful to the ALS Association- OC Chapter, who supported us and provided medical equipment for my Dad when he was sick.”

Double thumbs up from my uncle, with the greatest support system right behind him. (Kyla Justiniani ’07 third from the left and Lizelle Justiniani ’03 sixth from the left.) (Photo provided by Kyla Justinani)

The walk was a success, and Kyla reflects, “It was our honor to give back and raise a total of over $2,500 for the organization, which surpassed our goal of $2,000. We highly encourage others to support this great organization. ALS will not stop, but we can help to slow it down!” With a similar experience, Lizelle is “determined to participate in the ALS walk every year and give others the same support and encouragement bestowed on us. One day there will be a cure for ALS; in order to achieve that goal… it begins with us.”

The Walk to Defeat ALS was truly a “Walk To Remember.”

To donate to find a cure for ALS, click here: