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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Campus Community Plants Pinwheels of Hope in Parking Lot

    A few members of the Stony Brook University community spent most of their afternoon at the South P parking lot on campus on Sunday, planting pinwheels to support an event called “Ride for Life.”

    According to Beverly Campbell, the coordinator of the day’s activity and an employee with the department of Pharmacology on campus , the near 6,000 pinwheels the group of about 15 aimed to plant were supposed to represent the lives of each person that died from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — in 2007. She said the goal of planting the pinhweels, and of Ride for Life, was to raise awareness about the disease.

    “The goal… is to raise awareness about the disease,” Campbell said. “About people who have disabilities, who are basically left to die.”

    ALS is a nervous system disease that attacks the motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to an article from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. These cells are essential for transmitting messages from the brain and spinal cord to the voluntary muscles. People with ALS eventually lose strength in their muscles and cannot move, the article said.

    People with ALS normally die from respiratory failure, the article said. And about 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year, according to the ALS Association’s website. Currently, there is no cure.

    Ride For Life, however, aims to change that. On the organization’s website, they said that Ride For Life’s mission included rasiing research funds to find a cure for ALS.

    The ride, which has taken place each year since 1998, involves ALS patients riding their wheelchairs for sometimes hundreds of miles, alongside supporters, in order to raise awareness and money. This year, the ride is from Montauk to Manhattan, and kicked off on May 4.

    The determined few at the lot in South P included student and faculty alike. Not all, however, were doing it because they felt deeply about the cause.

    One student, Henry Yim, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, said he was out there mainly for the experience. “[I’m ] just volunteering to volunteer.”

    Such was the case with Melanie Ng, a sophomore, who came out for Alpha Epsilon Delta. “I think it”s great, but it’s kind of wild to get 6,000.”

    Still, most of the people there were enthusiastic about the job. Campbell was cheerful, even as the sun pelted her and the rest of the group.

    They worked in the grass, kneeling, digging and planted for the rest of the afternoon. The red and silver pinwheels that were already planted whirled as the wind blew and created a glimmering sea of light reflected from the sun. Hearts were printed on each of the pinwheel’s fans, and the pinwheels each stood in columns.

    “Hopefully if people are aware, they will contribute,” said Jim Rohlf, a professor in the department of Ecology and Evolution.

    The Ride for Life group is expected to pass through Stony Brook on May 6.

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