BUCKHANNON – Research is critical to finding a cure and treatments for the debilitating disease ALS. Over the next couple weeks, folks have the perfect chance to ‘step up’ by participating in a fundraiser for the ALS Association that will raise money for that exact purpose in honor of a Buckhannon native.
Thanks to the efforts of a teen in Ohio, everyone has the opportunity to help raise money for the ALS Association foundation through a 5K/1-mile walk/run called Steps for Seth. (Important note: The deadline to register is Friday, Sept. 11, so please click here if you want to help.)
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan Helmick, who is a high school senior in Ohio and a cousin to Buckhannon native-turned-Morgantown resident Seth Poling and his wife, Erika Poling, had planned to host a 5K Fun Run/1-mile walk/run this weekend.
Jordan said since the pandemic, she switched her focus from an in-person run to a virtual race to help cure ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease – in honor of Seth, who was diagnosed with the disease several years ago.
Steps for Seth, which will be held virtually from Sept. 15 to 30, allows folks anywhere to participate and help raise money for research into treatments and cures for ALS, a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control.
Jordan said she wanted to plan and hold this race because supporting her family members has always been an important value of hers.
“A few years ago, when Seth received his ALS diagnosis, it was really hard news for all of us,” Jordan said. “I wanted to do something to be able to show support for Seth and his family, to show we are all looking out for him and that we all care a lot for him.”
Seth Poling, who grew up in Buckhannon before moving to Morgantown, is the son of Holt and Mary Alice Poling and the brother of Brittany Alden and brother-in-law of Brittany’s husband, Matt Alden. He graduated from Buckhannon-Upshur High School in 2005. He and his wife, Erika are the proud parents of two sons, Liam Seth and Bayler Michael Poling.
In June 2017, Seth received a diagnosis for the symptoms he had been experiencing for four years prior: ALS, which is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Jordan said she had been looking to set up some kind of fundraiser and then a race came to mind; Jordan is an athlete and when interviewed by My Buckhannon, she was at school waiting to leave to participate in a cross-country meet.
“I have always been an athlete, and I thought a race would be the perfect event to bring people together,” Jordan said. “Since we cannot have the race in person, we have turned it into a virtual race.”
So, how does a ‘virtual race’ work?
“It is basically like registering for an in-person race, but our racing time is open from Sept. 15 to 30,” Jordan explained. “We have an email for reporting your time and then those will be posted. So, it is basically like a race, except we are not all together completing it.”
Jordan said everyone may participate on their own or with friends and family members, regardless of where they live. People can run a 5K (3.1 miles) or complete a 1-mile walk/run and the registration is available at https://register.chronotrack.com/r/58230.
The cost is $15 for the 1-mile walk/run and $20 for the 5K race, and all proceeds benefit the ALS Association’s Northern Ohio Chapter. The deadline to sign up for the Steps for Seth is soon, though – participants should sign up by the end of the day, Friday, Sept. 11.
Jordan said she hopes people will join in the Steps for Seth to help raise money for ALS research.
“ALS is a heartbreaking disease, whether you have been personally affected by someone who has it or not,” she said. “It is really had to watch your loved ones decline with the way this disease takes you. I would say whether you know someone or not, show your support and love for those suffering from this disease by participating. It really is a heartbreaking disease.”
Jordan said she gives all the praise to Seth and his family.
“He is so positive, and he has been amazing through this struggle,” Jordan said. “It is amazing what a good father and husband he is – he is so strong.”
Jordan said she hopes people will participate and help raise funds for research.
“Share your photos,” she said. “I am hoping to make this an annual fundraiser each September.”
Seth’s mom, Mary Alice Poling, said while this fundraiser will not benefit Seth directly, research about ALS is critical to finding a cure and treatments.
“This walk/run and the money raised from it will help fund research for new drugs to help,” Mary Alice said. “We hope folks will participate in Steps for Seth. People could walk on the Riverwalk or could walk in front of their house with the event being held virtually.”
Erika Poling said she encourages friends, neighbors and communities to participate in the Steps for Seth Fun Run/Race.
“We encourage everyone to get out, be active and help support the ALS Foundation,” Erika said. “Hopefully, they will find a cure for this disease one day.”
Erika said she and her family are all very proud of Jordan for taking on and planning the race.
“We are proud for Jordan for taking on something like this that has affected our family,” Erika said. “We are appreciative that she cares enough to raise money for the cause as well.”