Community Spirit ALS Walk kickoff this weekend

Above: Linda and Danny Getzlaf are hoping to see many Morinville and area residents at the Danny Getzlaf Community Spirit ALS Walk kickoff June 1. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

Coach’s Corner will host Danny Getzlaf’s Community Spirit ALS Walk kickoff Saturday, June 1 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Getzlaf, a Morinville Public Works employee, was diagnosed with fatal neurodegenerative disease (ALS) in the fall of 2017. Initially, Getzlaf said he’d become fatigued at work, coming home at the end of the day for two- to three-hour naps, something that was out of character for him.

That August he told his doctor he was unable to move his right big toe. Though unconcerned himself, his doctor was, and scheduled him to see a neurologist. After an MRI, two EMG’s, and what Getzlaf said was “a bucket full of blood tests,” he was diagnosed with ALS, a disease with no cure and one which is fatal.

The Morinville man has been a tireless ambassador for the illness since being diagnosed, providing a shoulder for those diagnosed with the disease and actively fundraising for the ALS Society of Alberta. Getzlaf, who is known for his friendliness and positivity, was chosen to be the 2019 Edmonton ALS Walk Ambassador.

“When they asked me, the first thought was I am not a famous baseball player like Lou Gherig. I’m not a scientist like Stephen Hawking. I’m just a regular Joe, right,” Getzlaf said. “How can I do anything to make things better. And they said, ‘Just be yourself and you’re going to make things better.'”

But Getzlaf has always had a zest and excitement for life, celebrating each day with his love for wife Linda and their six children, as well as family, friends, and his Morinville.

The June 1 fundraising event at Coach’s Corner is an example of his love of community but also the community’s love for Getzlaf.

Getzlaf’s Community Spirit Team, who will walk in the June 8 Edmonton ALS Walk, are looking to raise $40,000 for the cause, 10 per cent of the Edmonton goal of $400,000. At the time of writing, the Getzlaf Community Spirit Team has raised more than $16,000 of that goal.

The fundraising will get a boost with funds raised at the June 1 event.

The ALS Society of Alberta uses 60 per cent of funds raised to assist those with ALS with the things they need, including wheelchair lifts, stairlifts, speech devices, canes, and other items. The remaining 40 per cent goes towards research the disease.

Saturday’s Morinville event will include three entertainers spread across the day.

Country singer Justin Hogg, who had a successful run at last weekend’s Rainmaker Rodeo, will play from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Hogg will be followed by Tony Reid, an artisan strongman steel bender. Reid’s Mind Over Metal performance will run from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“He will be doing a couple of strongman demonstrations,” Getzlaf explained. He’ll be ripping phone books in half, a deck of cards in half. He practices every day,” Getzlaf said, adding that he will bend pieces of steel into a wine rack, which will be sold during the silent auction.

Reid will be followed by the band The Unlisted from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The event will include several fundraising opportunities including a 50-50 draw, raffle for a barbecue, and a silent auction. Those wishing to donate silent auction items can drop them off at Re/Max Real Estate on 100 Avenue. Additionally, the Morinville Lions Club will donate all proceeds from that afternoon’s Meat Draw to the cause.

A significant component of Getzlaf’s fundraising initiative is an Ice Dunk Challenge running from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The dunk tank, filled with ice water, will be set up on the grass beside Coach’s Corner, and Getzlaf has a number of local well-known faces lined up to take the plunge.

Cost of the event is $5 for three balls, and all proceeds will go to the Community Spirit ALS Walk.

Saturday’s event is not the only opportunity to assist. The Edmonton Walk to End ALS takes place June 8 at William Hawrelak Park with check-in at 9 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m.

Participants in the Edmonton ALS Walk will have transportation to and from Morinville courtesy of Fox Bus Lines who are donating their services for the Community Spirit Team.

Buses depart from the Morinville Legion at 10120 – 101 Ave at 8:15 a.m June 8, returning at 12:45 p.m. Those wanting to attend can call Danny Getzlaf at 780-975-4777 to reserve a spot.

Getzlaf’s wife Linda is hoping Morinville, and area residents will come out and support both the kickoff June 1 as well as the Edmonton ALS Walk June 8.

“I love his enthusiasm. It’s great,” Linda Getzlaf said, adding that as her husband’s disease progresses, they will need to take advantage of the services and research the society provides. “As much as they [the society] need the support of the community, Danny is going to need the support of all the things that they supply. If the society wasn’t there supplying it, we’d have to buy everything he will need.”

Those wishing to contribute directly to the team can do so at Hunters Print & Copy in Morinville or online at

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