Cladded in purple, Evelyn Sime and her family walked the streets around her apartment complex in Shelburne, taking part for a second year in the Walk to End ALS on Sunday (June 20) in honour of her daughter Cathi Snider.
“It’s a good tradition,” said Debra Bettio, one of Cathi’s three sisters in a phone interview. “It’s an opportunity to do something that will hopefully help other families, but also gives us the chance to reflect on what Cathi went through.”
Cathi Snider was diagnosed with ALS in August of 2019 after experiencing a fall, undergoing physiotherapy and several tests in hospital. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a terminal progressive nervous system disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord causing loss of muscle control.
After battling the disease for six months, Cathi passed away in February 2020.
“None of us knew anything about ALS before Cathi got her diagnosis. We certainly didn’t expect to lose her that quickly, it’s a horrible disease and it can be very aggressive,” said Cindy Sabo, another one of Cathi’s sisters.
“What we had read was average two to five years (life span) and it took a very independent women and changed everything in her life in a very short time,” said Bettio. “It was probably the hardest thing that I ever had to go through, which was watching her have to face it. You can’t forget, you have to do something to honour that.
While taking part in walk on Sunday, family members recalled memories of Cathi, describing her as a strong-willed, determined and independent person.
“Whatever she wanted she usually got,” said Evelyn Sime about her daughter.
“She was the boss of the family,” said Doug Snider, Cathi’s husband. “She took care of her kids, the house, and the dog.”
The Walk to End ALS is a Canada-wide volunteer-led fundraiser, the largest for ALS Societies in the country, which supports the 3,000 families living with ALS while honouring those who have passed from it. For the second year in a row the walk was held virtual through Facebook, with those walking in honour of Cathi (Team Cathi) doing so in Toronto, Amaranth, Shelburne, and British Columbia.
Snider said the walk was something the family couldn’t miss after the help they received from the ALS Society of Canada during Cathi’s battle with the disease.
While the walk for Evelyn Sime and her family was a day to honour Cathi, it was also a day for them to celebrate the strength of the family’s matriarch. Evelyn, who celebrated her 87th birthday in March, underwent back surgery in December of 2020, and also recovered from COVID-19 in April.
“This is special for us not only in memory of Cathi, but as a tribute to our mom who is quite a fighter in life and is here supporting her daughter,” said Sheri Sime.
Team Cathi had a fundraising goal of $2,500 and has so far raised $2,915 with 40 percent of the proceeds going towards the research of ALS and 60 per cent going towards community based support.
Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press