Kramberger: an inspiring model to compete and give back

West Islanders should be inspired and motivated to support Coach Phil’s special fundraising tournament in support of the ALS Society of Quebec.

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Facing a life-changing medical condition, a Pointe-Claire resident sets an inspiring example of a prepay moment by leading a fundraiser to help others.

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Last fall, Phil Lalonde, 61, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive disease of the nervous system that causes loss of muscle control. There is no cure yet for ALS – commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous baseball player.

Lalonde said his symptoms started to appear in the spring of 2021, with weakness in his arms and then muscle twitching, and he eventually sought medical attention. Lalonde, who retired a few years ago, noted that he still rides and did a recent fishing trip, but due to his condition needs help with some things, such as getting dressed.

Lalonde, a longtime soccer coach who once headed Soccer Pointe-Claire, has created a foundation and organized a tournament in support of the ALS Society of Quebec to support patients and fund research into new treatments for the devastating condition.

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Lalonde, who will be coaching another women’s team this summer, is undergoing ALS drug treatments, intravenously and with pills.

“It’s still a lot of fun and it gives me something to do,” he said of his current coaching duties. “I go out every week. The team is doing most of the work now, so they carry all the bags and stuff. But I am there to motivate and inspire.”

Lalonde said the idea of ​​a tournament fundraiser was discussed about a decade ago when he was president of Soccer Pointe-Claire, but his ALS diagnosis was needed to take the initiative this weekend.

The goal is to make the tournament an annual event, with hopes of expanding its reach by attracting teams from other parts of the Montreal region or even outside the province. Lalonde said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of the Pointe-Claire Oldtimers hockey tournament, a community fundraiser that has raised about $2.3 million over 50 years.

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“We want to keep growing it and have as much fun as possible,” he said of the football tournament. “All I’ve realized with ALS is that life is short, enjoy it.”

Organizing the fundraiser also acts as a therapeutic coping method.

“Without a goal… I’m sure my health would go straight down,” Lalonde said. “In this way I give back to society and that is important.”

Two well-known sports figures with ties to Pointe-Claire from the other football world, Tony Proudfoot and Michael Soles, were affected and eventually died of ALS. A Tony Proudfoot Fund has been established together with ALS Quebec. Soles and his family also organized and supported fundraising efforts for ALS.

Online donations can be made to Lalonde’s valuable drive. Visit the Soccer Pointe-Claire website (soccerpointeclaire.com) or the Facebook page for more information and links.

Let’s hope the goal of raising $50,000 is reached through the Men’s and Women’s Team Tournament to be held this weekend at Terra Cotta Park, off Donegani Ave., just east of Maywood Ave., in Pointe-Claire . Saturday at 9.45 am there is an opening ceremony

Albert Kramberger is editor of the Montreal Gazette’s West Island/Off-Island section.

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