URI to hold ALS walk to honor professor

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KINGSTON, R.I. — October 16, 2007–University of Rhode Island faculty, students and staff will join with community members in a walk to raise money for ALS research and to honor economics professor Yngve Ramstad. The event is part of Walk to D’feet ALS, which is the ALS Association’s national signature event.

The event will begin next to the quad at 22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, on Wed., Oct. 17. The four-lap walk around the quad is scheduled to start at noon, rain or shine.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. As a result, the brain cannot control the voluntary muscles and the muscles atrophy. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages between two to five years after diagnosis. Nearly 30,000 Americans now have ALS with approximately 5,600 new cases each year. At this time there is no known cause, prevention, or cure for ALS.

According to Glen Ramsay, Department of Economics chair, and one of the organizers of the event, Ramstad was diagnosed this past year with ALS. He stepped down as chair of the department in April and finished the spring semester teaching before going on medical leave.

Ramstad was also the NCAA faculty representative and head of the Athletic Advisory Board. “He is one of the most committed faculty members I have ever known,” said Gregg Burke, deputy athletics director and one of the organizers of the event. Burke served on the very first board of directors of ALS RI. “I got involved to honor Yngve. My knowledge of the disease makes it all the more compelling when a good friend suffers.”

With help from the state ALS support group, Ramstad will be attending the walk. Barbara Luebke, journalism professor, has been designated the team captain of the event. The Student Athletic Advisory Committee will help out at the event, and the URI Traditional Jazz Band will play during the walk. Ramstad was a member of the band.

Walk to D’Feet ALS was launched by the ALS Association in 1999 and is the Association’s largest nationwide event designed to raise money to find a cure for ALS, and to increase the awareness of the disease. Now in its eighth year, approximately 150 Walks will be held around the country. Last year, walkers nationwide raised more than $12 million in support of cutting-edge research and patient services programs.

Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so at the walk , or by going to www.walkri.org and registering under the team name, Ramstad’s Rams. Ramstad’s Rams will also be taking part in the 2007 Walk to D’Feet ALS at the Confreda Sports Complex in Warwick on Oct. 21 at 11 a.m.