A Perfect Bite Nite: local leaders raise $216,000 for ALS

On June 11, nearly 700 business and community leaders as well as local celebrities – including popular KTAR show hosts Mac & Gaydos as well as Emmy winner Catherine Anaya – gathered together at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale and raised more than $216,000 for the Arizona ALS Chapter during the organization’s Seventh Annual Bite Nite Gala and Culinary Affair.

In a fun twist to a traditional sit-down gala, guests at Bite Nite enjoyed clever cocktail hour games, including a ring toss where high-end magnums of wine were awarded as prizes and a mini ice bucket challenge-themed game of chance, as well as a fabulous assortment of fine wines, champagnes and eye popping bites from a dozen local chefs from the Westin, The Capital Grille, Toro, Ling & Louie’s, The Melting Pot, Twin Peaks, North, The Greene House and more cooking live all night long.

“One hundred percent of funds raised during this event are used to serve the needs of those living with ALS in Arizona, and their caregivers,” said Lisa Leveque of Optum Complex Management, who co-chaired the event with Dr. Todd Levine of Phoenix Neurological Associates. “Our chapters across the United States are the nation’s only nonprofit covering all the bases of those living with ALS — research, patient and community services, public education, and advocacy.”

Among the most moving aspects of the event – hearing local husband and father of three Rich Sigtermans, who lives with ALS, share his story to the crowd.

Just over a year ago, Sigtermans was a healthy, happy dad who loved nothing more than to hike the Arizona Sonoran Desert with his family. After a fall and substantial injury, Sigtermans was stunned to be diagnosed with ALS. He was first able to walk, thanks to assistance of a cane, but today uses a wheelchair.

“His is the story of approximately 30,000 Americans. ALS is a devastating, rapidly progressive fatal disease that robs its victims of the use of their muscles by destroying the nerves that control them. In 95 percent of the cases there is no known cause, and in 100 percent no known treatment,” said Dr. Levine, noting those who want to learn more about the Sigtermans story can visit www.fightforrich.com.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or more commonly known to some as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.  Over time, motor neurons begin to die and the brain’s ability to communicate with muscles is lost.

“As the disease progresses the ability to move, speak, eat and finally breathe, is lost.  We have to actively fight for families like Rich’s, and for continuing research toward treatment and a cure,” said Dr. Levine.

For more information, or to join in the fight, visit www.alsaz.com.

Ms. Bailin is a volunteer correspondent at the North Valley Office of Independent Newsmedia.

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