Residents of Smith's Harbour participate in Walk for ALS

Rudy Norman
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Residents of the town of Smith's Harbour participated in the Walk for ALS this year - a tradition they've been maintaining for the past three years because of personal impact with the disease they're raising money and awareness for.
The community on the Baie Verte Peninsula was home to Roy Penney and Wallace Andrews - two men who were diagnosed with ALS a few years ago.

"Having two people in our small town who were suffering with the disease was almost unheard of," said Jennifer Whelan, who helped organize the first ALS Walk three years ago, and each one since. "I think after that we realized we had to do something."

Whelan says last year's walk, like the first one, was a great success and a sign of how the community rallied around the cause.

"The last two years we had great support, especially for something that was so new and something people didn't hardly know anything about a few years ago."

For the two walks, Penney and his family joined the walkers on the trek through town, clad in purple t-shirts and decking out trees and bushes with purple balloons. Penney was in his wheelchair, as his disease had progressed to the point where walking was no longer possible.

"Seeing Roy get out the last two years was inspiration," said Whelan. "We had a symbol leading the way of exactly why we were raising money and why we were walking to find a cure for people like Wallace Andrews and Roy Penney."

Sadly, this year Penney and Andrews were missing from the walk; both men succumbed to their illness during the past year.

Penney's wife, Clowie, did participate, however, continuing the walk in her husband's memory, and joining in the sea of purple throughout the community.

Local resident Alfreda Penney also participated in the walk. He brother, former King's Point Mayor Baxter Newman, also lost his battle with ALS.

"We're going to keep going, for Roy, for Wallace, for Baxter and for everyone else who has had to endure this terrible disease," said Whelan.

The group in Smith's Harbour raised nearly $2,200 for the ALS society through this year's walk.

Organizations: ALS society

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