Because You Can
I joined a crowd of some 500 people on the National Mall on a recent Sunday morning to participate in the annual Walk to Defeat ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”).
Most of the attendees marched as part of a team. I was with the Walk for Mark team to honor a current ALS sufferer in my friend’s family. I was also walking in memory of my mother, an ALS victim. It is both a sad and a hopeful experience.
I always like to see the way the teams represent themselves and their honorees. There were many different colored shirts and slogans, beyond the standard one issued to all by the ALS Association. One woman, for example, sported yellow feathers on the back of her cheerleader-length skirt and wore a yellow-billed hat with googly eyes, which all the other 50-some team members wore. I think their sign said “Chicks for Charles.” There were simple as well as elaborately decorated shirts to designate the teams and there was great pride in all teams for the money they had raised and the number of joiners they had gathered to walk. “Nana’s Nuts,” “Cullers for a Cure,” “Judy’s Angels” and “Ginny’s Groovy Group” were among the walkers.
Although I had seen the “official” red ALS Association T-shirt on hundreds of people during the warm-up speeches and cheers, only as we finished the walk and returned to our starting place did I really look at what it said: “Walk to Defeat ALS. Because you Can.” POW! Right to my heart that went. I had been thinking it meant, “If we raise enough money, we can do research and cure ALS.” Totally out of my skill set. Someone else can do that. But the slogan — “Because you Can” — was referring to the fact that we can walk. Period. ALS patients, for the most part, can’t walk. And if they can walk at this stage, they either can’t use their arms or they can’t speak.
It made me keenly aware of my gifts on this particular day. I can (and did) walk. I can use my hands and I can speak. I am blessed. I count my blessings every day, since watching my active, spirited mother sink into ALS. I’m always noting that my arms and legs follow what I will them to do.
I’m keeping the ALS slogan in mind now, more than ever. Take steps to do something for someone else. Because you can.