A local family is once again raising funds and support for the annual Move to Cure campaign by the ALS Society of British Columbia, which supports families affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and funds ongoing research for a cure. 

Tammy Brown and her family will host a Move to Cure walk for the third year in a row at Merritt’s Rotary Park on Saturday, June 17, at 1:00 p.m. Brown’s father, Tony Caruso, was diagnosed with ALS in 2018. Caruso, a long time local and former logger who has split his time living between Merritt and nearby Princeton for most of his life, has always been a source of positivity and kindness to those around him, and remains that way despite his diagnosis.

Brown told the Herald that the walks began as a way to raise both funds and awareness for the Move to Cure Campaign, which uses 60 percent of its funds to support those diagnosed with the disease, and the other 40 percent for research on the still incurable disease. Brown said the annual event has also helped to show Caruso that he has the support of both of the communities he calls home, and brought some hope in an otherwise heartbreaking situation.

“My dad was diagnosed four years ago, and he is now in his end stages, so I think in terms of hope that he will survive, it’s inevitable that he will not. I think for the families, and even for my dad, it’s shown him how much support he has and how much people love him,” said Brown.

“It’s really meant a lot to my dad, and for us, in terms of hope, it’s that there can be a cure and other families don’t have to go through this and watch their loved ones die in front them. Your mind stays completely intact, while your body just fails you limb by limb. It’s devastating.” 

Brown said her father has continued to be a beacon of hope and positivity for her during some difficult times for the family, despite facing the currently incurable nervous system disease that affects the use of nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The family suffered a number of losses in the years following Caruso’s diagnosis, but their steadfast support for each other and ALS research is unwavering. 

Last year’s Move to Cure took place at Rotary Park, and invited participants to come together and “move, be it walking, running, rolling, or simply being present. Caruso, who relies on an electric wheelchair for mobility, took part in last year’s event along with about 70 other Merritt and Princeton locals. Their fundraising efforts last year raised more than $21,000, well exceeding their $10,000 goal. 

This year, 11 days before the walk is set to take place, Brown’s online fundraisers have raised $6500 with the same goal as last year. Brown noted that she is hopeful the fundraiser will again meet or exceed the goal, and welcomes donations through the fundraiser page on her personal Facebook page, Tammy Brown, or by donating through the ALS Society’s Move to Cure website under team name Tony Caruso. An account has also been set up at the Merritt Bottle Depot, where donations of bottles can be made under account 434. Donations can also be made by cash or cheque in person at the walk, which will take place on Saturday, June 17, at 1:00 p.m. in Rotary Park.

As usual, 100 percent of proceeds from the walk and its fundraisers will go to the ALS Society of BC.