Positively Maine: Noteworthy

Posted Sept. 06, 2011, at 4:12 p.m.

Hundreds of people, individuals and teams, participated in the fourth annual Bangor Walk to Defeat ALS on Aug. 27, in Bangor, reported Janice Von Brook, the Bangor Walk chairperson.

“The turnout here as been wonderful,” she said of the those raising support for and awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe.

The life expectancy of someone with ALS averages one to five years from the time of diagnosis. Every 90 minutes someone in this country is diagnosed with ALS, and every 90 minutes another person will lose his or her battle against this disease.

“We all work really hard each year to make this all possible — walk organizers, participants, everyone. It is great to see the community come together to help those battling with ALS. We’re a big family here. We have more planned for next year and hope to draw an even larger crowd of supporters,” Von Brook added.

“It’s not just The Jackson Laboratory that is focused on a cure for ALS,” said Dr. Cathy Lutz of The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. “It’s nationwide. It’s worldwide. We believe that we can find a cure, we believe that we can find treatments, and we won’t stop until we do.”

To find out more about next year’s walk and how to get involved visit walktodefeatals.org and click on Bangor, Maine, or connect on Facebook at Bangor Walk to Defeat ALS.

Terry Rockefeller will be the keynote speaker at “Building Bridges for Peace,” at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at First Congregational Church of Brewer.

“Building Bridges for Peace” is free and open to the public and is hosted by local religious and social justice organizations in conjunction with the International Day of Peace Sept. 21 and is part of the statewide “Bring Our War $$ Home (and put them to work) Care-a-Van” — drawing attention to local actions for peace from Sept. 10 through Oct. 10.

After her presentation will be creative, participatory, activity and information tables and a panel of area residents will answer the question, “What drives (inspires) you to work for peace?”

Rockefeller is a documentary filmmaker and a member of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization founded by family members of those killed on 9/11 to turn their grief into action for peace.

Rockefeller’s sister, Laura, was working at a conference at the World Trade Center when it was attacked.

“I joined September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows because it offered me the most meaningful way to honor Laura’s life and try to ensure that other families throughout the world do not experience the tragic and violent deaths of their innocent relatives,” Rockefeller said. “Peaceful Tomorrows, as a group, has tried to establish citizen-to-citizen connections and learn facts on the ground that, I think, really challenge the policies that our government has pursued.”

She works with the Iraqi civil society organization LaOnfm, which means “no violence” in Arabic and is a network of human rights activists building a nonviolence movement to resist occupation, terrorism and corruption in Iraq.

Mainers Feeding Mainers, Good Shepherd Food-Bank’s local foods program, has provided approximately 1 million pounds of locally sourced products for Mainers struggling with hunger since its launch in 2010.

The program goal is to foster reliable local food channels to help feed Maine’s hungry, while supporting Maine’s local food growers and producers. The food bank partners with 20 local food producers, including Fields of Green, Friends of Aroostook, Jordan Farm, Spiller Farm, Cozy Harbor Seafood, Nova Seafood, and Pineland Farm.

The program purchases Maine-produced food, from potatoes to fish and many farms also donate surplus products to supplement what those purchases, all of which are made available, free, to the Food-Bank’s partners through distribution centers in Auburn, Portland, and Brewer.

“We think it is important to raise awareness about the healthy benefits of local, seasonal food and receiving these items from Mainers Feeding Mainers goes a long way toward meeting that goal,” said Abigail Perry, executive director of the Augusta Food Bank, a Good Shepherd Food-Bank partner agency.

Mainers Feeding Mainers is made possible by the John T. Gorman Foundation, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Florence V. Burden Foundation, settlement funds from the Maine Attorney General’s Office, and other sponsors.

Good Shepherd Food-Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in Maine, working with 600 partner agencies.

Lucille Koncinsky, grandmother of the late Brianna Rachel Koncinsky (who was 6 when she died of brain cancer two years ago) reports the Aug. 13 Brianna Rachel Fund for Kids 9-Hole Scramble at Kenduskeag Golf and Country Club was a great success.

The tournament, which raises money for the fund that assists with the nonmedical needs of chronically-ill and hospitalized children and their families, raised $6,045.

Koncinsky’s family and friends will thus be able to continue their mission of giving seriously ill children something to smile about, which was Koncinsky’s wish. The funds help purchase everything from books to toys, CDs, care packages and other gifts as well as providing them with Christmas gifts and birthday parties.

For information about the Brianna Rachel Fund for Kids, call 884-7330 or 884-4199 or email lukey@msn.com.

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