JTWalk at the Oceanfront raises money for ALS research

(Photo courtesy of Doug Davis/WAVY)
(Photo courtesy of Doug Davis/WAVY)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – It was the perfect day at the Oceanfront for those who came out to raise awareness about ALS on Saturday.

“We’re just excited we can at least be here and put our money where our mouth is and our feet on the street to help out Beth,” says Allie Wittkamp.

Wittkamp is the vice president of marketing for TowneBank. The business sponsored the group “Beth’s Brigade” to walk at Sunday’s JTWalk & Beach Party.

“It really is just showing as a community, a whole Hampton Roads community, we’re supporting it,” Wittkamp says about finding a cure for the disease.

(Photo courtesy of Doug Davis/WAVY)
(Photo courtesy of Doug Davis/WAVY)

She walked for Beth’s Brigade because of the woman it is named after.

Beth Prever is the senior vice president of public relations for TowneBank. She’s led efforts for years to help raise money for the event, but in April, she was diagnosed with ALS.

“I’m speaking because Beth can’t speak for herself right now. She can walk. She can move. She’s a force to be reckoned with but for the moment, we’ll be her voice,” Wittkamp says.

The walk was started by the Virginia Gentleman Foundation after Josh Thompson, a founding member’s brother, was diagnosed with ALS ten years ago.

“ALS, no one knows where it comes from. There’s no cure. It slowly erodes away all the motor neurons in your body. It paralyzes you but you never lose your mental capacity. It’s like being in a glass coffin,” says Bruce Thompson, who is Josh’s father.

Thompson says the event has grown bigger each year.

“It’s extremely fulfilling for me, my family, and my son Josh, to see today 5,500 people on the boardwalk and raising over a million dollars for our charity’s cause,” Thompson says.

(Photo courtesy of Doug Davis/WAVY)
(Photo courtesy of Doug Davis/WAVY)

The band Train also performed at the event’s after party held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. All of the day’s events were about much more than having fun and raising money.

It was a reminder to those with ALS, there are people out there that have their backs.

“Being able to show that love, we’re glad we have the opportunity to do that, but not for the reason. So we’ll keep walking for a cure,” Wittkamp says.

The fundraiser also raised money for Camp Grom, a campground facility designed to give wounded warriors a place for rehabilitation.

If you’d like to donate to the Virginia Gentleman’s Foundation, you can visit their website at www.vagentlemen.com.