Personal loss leads community to rally for ALS cure

Gretchen and Shawn Teague (center and right) participate in the walk to defeat ALS. Gretchen’s daughter lost her battle to ALS in September 2009.

Shawn and Gretchen Teague (center and right) participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS Sept. 26. Gretchen’s daughter lost her battle to ALS in September 2009.

By Shelby Shaffer

Walk to Defeat ALS is a walk to raise funding for research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and every September when the Springfield community gathers for this cause, students and faculty at Central High School get particularly involved.

“Central High School participates in this event every year,” says Gretchen Teague, a theatre teacher at Central High School, “and we do it for my daughter Haley, who was widely loved by her fellow students.”

Haley Stevens was a normal Central High School student that participated in Kilties, theatre, choir and dance team. That was until she fell during an assembly and wasn’t able to get back up, Gretchen Teague, Haley’s mother, said.

“Her doctor said with a laugh, “If you were fifty, I’d say that you have ALS, but that can’t be it.” Haley was fifteen, a sophomore in high school,” Teague Said.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes muscle weakness, paralysis, and ultimately, respiratory failure to the patient diagnosed, according to the ALS association (ALSA).

Haley was officially diagnosed with the disease at the young age of sixteen. High school can be difficult for everyone, but it was especially difficult for Haley because she could no longer do what she used to.  But Haley persevered and was able to graduate high school with the class of 2009 and was even elected prom queen.

The central high school community was highly impacted by Haley’s diagnosis and ultimate death due to ALS. She was dedicated to the kilties and she brought a lot of joy to the corps, according to Jessica Freeman, Kiltie sponsor.

“Haley was a shining star,” said Freeman. “She encouraged and boosted the moral of a lot of girls and when she left us it really took a chunk out of the heart of this ninety year tradition. So, that’s why we support ALS, for Haley.”

Soon after diagnosis Haley could no longer do beloved activities such as kilties. So, every year in September the Kilties and a lot of the Central community join together to raise money for the walk to defeat ALS so that maybe this research that they are funding will help someone battling this disease. They do it in memory of Haley Stevens.

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