Hundreds of Muscular Dystrophy Association supporters, including dozens of members of the Access Hollywood family, took to the track at UCLA’s Drake Stadium on Saturday for the annual MDA Stride and Ride event, alongside Grand Marshall, Access Hollywood’s own, Nancy O’Dell to help raise money and awareness for the MDA.
Nancy, a spokesperson for the ALS branch of MDA, lost her beloved mother Betty earlier this year to ALS, also known as Lou Gherig’s disease. Nancy said that having walks, like the one held at UCLA this past weekend, are vital.
“Events like this mean so much to me because it raises awareness and funding to hopefully find a cure someday for ALS and all the neuromuscular diseases,” she said. “I hope that no other family will have to go through what my family did in the future.”
Nancy said the Stride and Ride events, which are held all over the country, help draw attention to diseases she feels are often overlooked.
“A lot of people don’t know about the different neuromuscular diseases,” she said. “They’re treated kind of as orphan diseases… A lot of them are rapidly fatal and there are not a lot of people living with them at any one point in time, so the pharmaceutical companies don’t focus on finding something to treat these diseases as much as they do [for] something that reaches the mass audience.
“It’s very, very, very important for events like this to raise awareness about a disease and to raise funding for research because research is so expensive,” she continued. “You’ve got to try so many things to finally come up with a cure, so to be able to raise money for research and to raise awareness is vitally important.”
Nancy said she was thrilled to wake up early and hit the track to raise money for research and she offered her gratitude to the MDA organization.
“MDA, the organization that is hosting this walk, was so wonderful and instrumental and was there every single day for my family,” she said about the agency’s support during Betty’s illness. “I am bound and determined with events like this today… that we are going to find a cure for ALS and we’re going to find a cure for all neuromuscular diseases and hopefully it’s going to be sometime soon with the support of all these people.”
At final count, $53,065 was raised from the event, more than tripling the $16,000 raised in 2007.