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The Daly and Bentley family lead a group of supporters during the start of the virtual Walk to End ALS in Toronto, June 20, 2021.Tijana Martin/The Globe and Mail

The organizers: Steve Daly and family and friends

The pitch: raising $123,000 and climbing

The cause: ALS Society of Canada

When Steve Daly lost his singing voice a few months ago, it turned out to be an early sign of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS.

“He just declared to me at Easter, ‘I can’t sing any more,’ ” Mr. Daly’s sister-in-law, Trish Bentley, recalled from her home in Toronto. “That was the biggest thing because he’s such a great singer.”

ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and it’s a motor neurone condition that gradually leads to paralysis. As muscles deteriorate, people with ALS lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow and eventually breathe. Mr. Daly’s diagnosis in April “was a big shock,” Ms. Bentley said. “It’s just been a whole new world for everyone.”

Mr. Daly, 49, runs a group of Toronto-area clinics called Canoe Therapy, which treat children with special needs. He’s always been active and big hearted, Ms. Bentley said. “He is the highest energy person that I’ve ever met.”

A few weeks ago, a group of family and friends decided to honour Mr. Daly by joining the ALS Society’s Walk to End ALS, a national fundraising event that was held virtually this year on June 20. Participants spent 90 minutes on a chosen activity — from walking and running to dancing or meditating. The group, which included Ms. Bentley, her husband Gary Hopkins, along with Mr. Daly, his wife Cory Bentley and their four children, raised more than $123,000 and donations continue to flow in.

“It is still very difficult to accept that this happened, but every day Stevie would text me about who came out of nowhere and donated to the cause,” said Mr. Daly’s older brother, Kevin Daly. “It’s an unbelievable experience for us all – and it has lifted his spirits and continues to do so with each $20 contribution.”

Ms. Bentley is also thankful to the many people who supported Mr. Daly and the ALS Society. “In such an awful nightmare situation, and it’s brought a lot of light,” she said. “It just warms my heart.”

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