What is Tour du ALS?
What started out as a cycling tour in France for a small group of friends has turned into an annual fundraising sport event for hundreds of people. Under the motto ‘Get on your feet to beat ALS’ (in Dutch ‘Samen trappen we ALS de wereld uit’) every year hundreds of people cycle, run and walk up the Mont Ventoux together with ALS patients to raise money for research into the causes of ALS/MND.
Gert-Jan Pijl is the project manager and one of the original group that set the whole thing in motion : "In late 2011, my wife Irmgard and I contacted the ALS Foundation in the Netherlands (Stichting ALS Nederland). A small group of family and friends wanted to go to the Mont Ventoux in the south of France to raise funds for ALS, because my father-in-law, Gijs van de Water, had the disease. At the same time Bernard Bos, former director of De Oosthoek educational foundation in Hardenberg, also contacted the ALS Foundation after his colleague Marlinda Tamminga was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 33, only six months after giving birth to her third child. Her story inspired Bernard and other colleagues to take up the challenge of cycling to raise money. So, after the Foundation received these two plans, the PR and events manager Ineke Zaal set up a meeting. And soon after, the Tour du ALS was born.
The great thing is that this event was created from the family feeling inspired by two ALS patients. We started off with about 25 people and now the 'family' has expanded to hundreds of participants, ALS patients and volunteers who each make a positive contribution to the fight against ALS.
The aim of the Tour du ALS is to attract 1,500 participants who each raise €1,500- reflecting the average of 1,500 patients suffering from ALS/MND in the Netherlands each year.
Amytrofische Laterale Sclerose (ALS)
Motor neuron diseases are a group of extremely serious conditions that cause the nerves in the spine and brain to progressively lose function. ALS is the most common type of motor neuron disease. The average life expectancy following diagnosis is only 3 years. The causes of the disease are unknown. ALS affects adults of all ages and nationalities. Some 350,000 people have the disease around the world. In the Netherlands, around 1,500 people have ALS. Every year 500 people in the Netherlands die of ALS and another 500 patients receive a diagnosis. Currently there is no medication or therapy available to treat or cure this terrible disease.