In the few short months since longtime Westerville school board member Cindy Crowe was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, a large-scale community effort has taken shape to raise money for a foundation in her name.
The Win the Fight Crowe-Wentzel foundation, which will raise money to help ALS patients participate in clinical trials, will hold its first fundraiser this Saturday.
The walkathon and campout will begin with a festival-style event, from 5 to 11 p.m. July 27 at Westerville Central High School, 7118 Mount Royal Ave.
There will be food, a line-up of live bands, raffles, 50/50 drawings and activities presented by Games 2 U, including inflatable bounce houses, giant balloon launchers, hamster balls and laser tag.
Admission to that portion of the event is $10 for adults and $5 for children.
The walkathon itself will begin at 10 p.m., with different laps taking on different themes. There will be a lantern launch at midnight.
The walkathon will conclude at 8 a.m. Sunday with a sunrise service led by the Rev. Rick Vilardo.
Walkathon teams are invited to camp during the event.
As the event has taken shape, the amount of community support has been outstanding, said Vicki Jarrell, who helped lead the organization of the event.
A group of motivated volunteers came forward to help coordinate the event, she said, and businesses have donated their services.
Jarrell said she credits Crowe's dedication to the community for the outpouring of support for her foundation's first event.
"I think it's the passion and the dedication to Cindy. It has everything to do with how much she's done for the community, and now the community wants to give back to her," Jarrell said.
"I credit Cindy for all of this. She is the planet that everyone's revolving around. A lot of people who know how to get things done are passionate. We just kind of divided and conquered each of our tasks."
More than 100 walkers already have signed up to participate, and Jarrell said she expects to see at least 150 people take to the track on Saturday night.
Walkers can sign up at the event, or in advance through the foundation website, FightALSwithCindy.org.
Jarrell emphasized that the event isn't just for those who want to walk through the night: Everyone is invited to enjoy the evening's activities, she said.
"We're going to have a lot of fun. It should be a great time for anybody and everybody who wants to come out," Jarrell said.
Once the walkathon is through, the foundation will turn its attention to supporting the ALS Association Central and Southern Ohio Chapter's walk, Jarrell said. From there, the hope is to create more community events to support the foundation.
"It will be an ongoing foundation. The more we are able to gather together, the more we can donate to the patients that are battling ALS," Jarrell said.