When Kevin Kavanagh helped start George’s Team Green at the Ocean City Board…Walk to Defeat ALS in 2008, few people at the boardwalk knew anything about ALS. The team held signs and wore colorful green shirts, but most people who walked by had no idea what they were doing.
Even if they did not have widespread awareness though, George’s Team Green had one thing that kept them going — Hope. For the last ten years, this team has walked and raised money with the hope that they will see a cure for ALS. It is easy to talk about hope, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to hold onto hope for so long. For this Walk to Defeat ALS team though, taking things easy has never been an option.
Kevin and his wife Michelle, along with Michelle’s sisters Bernadine (Manduke) Rose and Kathy (Manduke) Romanik, have maintained that positivity even as ALS devastated their family. ALS has taken the life of Michelle’s father George Manduke Sr., her brother George Jr., her Uncle Nick Manduke Sr., and her cousin Nick Manduke Jr. She has reason to believe that her grandfather passed away from ALS as well. This kind of life could break the spirits of any person, but Michelle and Kevin have become more determined to fight ALS with each passing year.
That hope has paid off over the years. After the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, everyone was talking about ALS and knew why Kevin and Michelle and their team were walking. The walk took on new meaning and energy as beach goers cheered on the teams. There was a renewed unity of purpose and an increase in donations.
This year, George’s Team Green is raising more money than they ever have at a walk. Part of that may be because of the hope that came when the FDA granted its first approval for a new ALS treatment in 22 years this spring when they approved Radicava. The work of Walk teams was clearly making research and advocacy possible and more effective.
When Kevin and Michelle walk this year, they won’t just be walking for their family. With each Walk to Defeat ALS event, they meet new families who have been impacted by the disease. They have made more connections which only serve to make them more committed to the cause. While they know from personal experience that genetics plays a part in ALS, they have also seen that ALS can strike anyone. They also know that anyone can get involved to find a cure.
Teams from throughout the region will come together in Ocean City, New Jersey on Saturday, September 16 to Walk to Defeat ALS. George’s Green Team will have tremendous support from local family and friends and even one friend who will fly in from Albuquerque, New Mexico. For ten years, those supporters have joined the walk filled with hope and they will continue to walk each year until they raise all of the awareness and money they need to end ALS for good. You can donate to a walk team today at www.oceancitywalktodefeatals.org