By MICHAEL FRANCIS SCHWARZE, Business Manager
Haverford College ALS Awareness Week kicks off Monday, April 3, and culminates in the ninth annual Joe Schwartz ’83 Memorial 3K Run/Walk on Sunday April 9. The week’s activities support amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that approximately 6,400 people are diagnosed with each year.
The first annual Joe Schwartz race was held in 2008 by Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Cory Walts. Walts was “looking for a way to integrate the Haverford community, and wanted to give a purpose for community members to exercise.” Wendy Smith put Walts in contact with Peter Leibold ’85. Leibold wanted to honor his friend who contracted ALS in 1995, Joe Schwartz ’83.
During his four years at Haverford, Schwartz was an outstanding member of the cross country and track and field teams and a strong supporter of the Haverford athletic community. Schwartz passed away a month prior to the first event on March 2nd, 2008 after battling the disease for 13 years.
Schwartz is survived by his two sons, Elliott and Jonathan Schwartz. Elliott was a member of the track and field team before he graduated from Haverford in 2014. Elliott, along with basketball and track athlete Dominique Meeks who lost her mother to ALS in 2013, helped mold the race into the successful event that it is today. At its inception, the Joe Schwartz race had 105 participants and last year’s race had 332 participants.
While the event started as a race, it has molded into an entire week of activities and support for the cause. This year’s ALS Awareness Week launches April 3 with the Chipotle Fundraiser Night that starts at 2:00 p.m. 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the ALS Association if you mention the week or show the flyer. Over the course of the week there also will be a movie showing of Gleason in Stokes Auditorium and a 3 on 3 basketball tournament.
There will also be an a capella concert in honor of Susan H. Aronchick, mother of Haverford Field Hockey Coach Jackie Cox. Mrs. Aronchick passed away in 2015 after a two and a half year battle with ALS. A capella groups will be featured from local colleges and high-schools.
The week culminates with the Joe Schwartz ’83 Memorial 3K Run/Walk on Sunday April 9 at 12:30 p.m. on Founders Green. Following the race there will be a kids’ fun run, barbecue, bubble soccer, and lively music.
The Joe Schwartz Committee has a goal of raising $12,000 for ALS research and patient care. In addition, the committee has partnered with Positive Tracks, which matches fundraising dollars for anyone 23 years old and under. Online Registration for the Joe Schwartz ’83 Memorial 3K Run/Walk has already begun. You can register and donate online through the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association.
Photo courtesy of Haverford Athletics