Elizabeth Chapman

ELIZABETH CHAPMAN, a disciple of Norfolk Rescue Mission’s New Life Program, stands in front of the mission’s administration building. Chapman recently raised $740 for the ALS in the Heartland walk this Sunday.

A Norfolk woman has raised around $740 for the ALS in the Heartland walk this Sunday.

Elizabeth Chapman, a disciple of Norfolk Rescue Mission’s New Life Program, started fundraising for the ALS in the Heartland Walk only two weeks ago. She said her original goal was to raise $500, but she quickly exceeded that number.

“When I said $500, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I can reach that,’” Chapman said. “It sounded like a good goal. But I never expected to raise that much.”

According to Chapman, she was inspired by her friend Caroline Miller of Norfolk to start fundraising for the walk. Miller has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is a rare nervous system disease that weakens muscles and affects physical functions.

According to the ALS Association, a nonprofit that funds research and provides care services for people with ALS, there is no known cause or cure for the disease. ALS is fatal and the average life expectancy of people with the disease is two to five years, although some people live for much longer.

“When (Caroline) told me about it, I just wanted to help out with the cause,” Chapman said.

According to Roxann Fox, the director of women’s ministries with the Norfolk Rescue Mission, Chapman asked the mission’s neighbors and staff for donations, as well as people at her church and in the community.

“I'm really proud of her,” Fox said. “... The community has embraced us and what she's doing.”

According to Fox, there are only three people in the Northeast Nebraska area who have ALS, including Miller.

“(Caroline) is) a very strong, godly lady — a strong believer. And she keeps saying God chose me to go through this,” Fox said. “And when we go visit her and take her meals, we're always the ones leaving in tears because she's so inspiring.”

Tammy Stalzer, the executive director of the nonprofit ALS in the Heartland, called Chapman’s fundraising efforts “incredible.”

“I love when that happens — when people gather around their friends or their family, and they say, ‘You know what, we're going to help you raise awareness.’ Because this is an agency, that likely in this situation, I'm guessing is helping you. And we want to be able to have some part in that.”

Stalzer said ALS in the Heartland, which is based out of Omaha, has been holding walks for ALS in Norfolk for more than 13 years.

This year’s walk will be located at Skyview Lake in Norfolk and will begin on Sunday at 1 p.m. Activities such as a beanbag toss and spinning wheel will be available, as well as a silent auction.

Before the start of the ceremonial walk at 2 p.m., bubbles will be handed out for people to ‘blow in the air as they remember those they’ve lost to ALS,’ Stalzer said.

“We think about and honor those who are living with ALS,” Stalzer said, “and think about the hope we have that someday we can figure out a cure to this disease.”

Stalzer said the walk usually lasts until 4 p.m., but people can walk as long as they want.

Free-will donations can still be given beforehand and also will be accepted at the ALS in the Heartland Walk. People who wish to donate to Chapman’s fundraising efforts before the walk on Sunday can stop by the Norfolk Rescue Mission and ask for either Chapman or Fox.

“I'm just glad that I could be a part of blessing Caroline and the other people that have ALS because there's no cure for it,” Chapman said. “And this money goes for research and stuff like that. So that's my biggest goal — that hopefully, the money will help them find some kind of medicine or a cure.”

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