Beyond the ice bucket: Walk to Defeat ALS on Saturday

People were transfixed by the many videos of people getting chilled by buckets of ice during the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS research.

On Saturday, people will take to the pavement for the "13th Annual Walk to Defeat ALS". The event raises awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

The walk is the largest annual event for the ALS Association of Georgia, which uses the money to sustain patient care services and support treatment and research to find a cure.

Executive Director Sarah Embro said more people know about the disease, in part, because of the popularity of ice bucket challenge videos, which ruled social media for a while. Celebrities and ordinary people, alike, had buckets and barrels of ice dumped on them and later posted videos.

Overall, she said the efforts raised more than $115 million, of which $890,000 made it’s way to Georgia.

Between the challenges and the walk, last year the ALS local chapter raised more than a million dollars.

The challenge “certainly made conversations easier,” she said. “People recognize it more than they ever did before.”

In 2013, about 1,800 people participated in the annual walk. This year, Embro expects it to top 2,500.

The event will be held at the International Plaza at the Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. N.W.

Registration opens at 8:30 .m. and the walk begins at 10:30 a.m. There will also be a pre-walk program at 10 a.m.