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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Walk to Defeat ALS raises more than $3,600

  • When Mark Buckner arrived for the ninth annual Walk to Defeat ALS Saturday morning, he was expecting to participate with only a few familiar faces.
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  • When Mark Buckner arrived for the ninth annual Walk to Defeat ALS Saturday morning, he was expecting to participate with only a few familiar faces.
    He had posted the upcoming walk on Facebook with only a handful of people able to commit.
    His mother, Virginia Buckner, died from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, five years ago. He and sister, Crystal, have been part of the walk since then.
    Thus, Buckner was in for a big surprise when he saw a number of familiar faces headed his way just a half hour before the start of the walk. They were all wearing screen-printed maroon T-shirts with his mom's name on them and looked like the same people who had told him that they had "other commitments" just a week of so ago.
    Team Buckner had arrived. The crew consisted of around a dozen or so Rolla High School classmates of Mark's. They arrived together and snuck up on Mark at the park's pavilion.
    "My sister, Robin Sooter, found out about this and secretly organized this team via Facebook in honor of Mark and his mother," said Dana Sooter. "We all lied to him and told him we were going to be at this or that event and unable to be here today. He had no idea we were coming. He just about fell to the ground." Team Buckner was one of around 10 teams that came out for the fundraising event.
    This year marked the fourth ALS walk for Doc's Peeps, a team made up of family and friends who came to honor Donald "Doc" Church. According to Church's former fiance, Samantha Wilcox, the Rolla native died within a year of being diagnosed with the debilitating disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
    The fundraising event was sponsored by the ALS Association of St. Louis. Jason Young, the group's communications and marketing specialist, said that the walk raised more than $3,600 for ongoing research.
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