TAMPA – Belinda Poole loved to sing. Friends say she had an incredible voice.
She also couldn’t wait for Saturday nights to roll around so she could put on her favorite high-heeled shoes and go dancing with her husband, Brian.
She also treasured the moments she read to her two young sons, Blake and Bryson, now 8 and 10.
Today those joyous times in the life of the Tampa woman are mere memories.
Poole has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and causes the body’s muscles to weaken. As a result they atrophy, including those that involve speech, swallowing, the use of one’s limbs and eventually the ability to breathe.
There is no known cause or cure, and the average life span after diagnosis is two to five years.
On behalf of Poole, members of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club of Tampa – which includes her husband – will join close to a thousand others expected to turn out for Saturday’s Walk to Defeat ALS at the University of South Florida.
People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to sign on. Children may even want to consider joining the Kids Quest for Charity team, led by Poole’s son Bryson.
Check in for the two-mile trek begins at 9:30 a.m. and the race starts at 11 a.m. There is no fee to enter and participants may either walk as individuals or with a team. To learn more and to sign up click here.
Baseball legend Lou Piniella will serve as the honorary manager of the walk, the ALS association’s signature event in which all funds support research, programs and patient care through the Florida chapter. Piniella is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and manager who guided the local team when they were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Piniella’s wife, Anita, lost her father, Frank Garcia, to ALS.
“My father-in-law fought for many causes in his life but he ultimately lost his personal fight against ALS,” he said. “It’s up to us to continue this fight.”
Contact Maggie Nolan at [email protected] or (813) 637-9000, Ext. 118 for more information.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]