Text and Photos
By Leah Sander
WINONA LAKE — Anje Anglin called an event in which hundreds of people floated on inflatables on Winona Lake to honor her and bring awareness to her illness, Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, “wonderful.”
“It feels wonderful,” said the former Kosciusko County resident. “I mean I couldn’t believe how many people turned out, but again we’re just trying to (bring about) ALS awareness. It’s an awful disease, but I’ve met so many wonderful people and had beautiful experiences like this, so thank you to everyone who’s turned out for our event.”
Anglin’s niece Erin Serafino, of Winona Lake, organized the float held Saturday morning, Sept. 9. The around $5,500 raised from it will help with Anglin’s medical expenses from the degenerative nerve disease.
The about 600 people who participated also aimed to break a Guinness world record of the longest floating chain of inflatables. The chain did make it to 2,250 feet, but fell 1,000 feet shy of the record.
Serafino said she might consider trying again for the record next year although she’s “not committing to it quite yet.”
However, Serafino did say the event appeared to meet her mission of “celebrating life.”
“While we have it, let’s celebrate what we have,” she said. “That’s been our goal today. I think we did that and also celebrating the lives of people who have been lost to this (disease).”
Among others, she thanked the Warsaw Police Department, Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory and Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their help Saturday as well as observers Rob Bishop, Tony Garza and Chris McCrea, who helped measure the length.
Anglin herself participated in the float as did others who had personal connections to ALS.
Those include her friend from her new home in Bargersville, Kevin Kinnee, who’s been battling the disease himself for about three years.
“It’s awesome,” he said of getting to participate.
“ALS … is one of several diseases that (there is less) awareness (of),” he said. As an example, he noted he and other ALS patients have difficulties using public restrooms and going into businesses.
“Ultimately, this is for a great cause, so we drove two and a half hours to be here and would have driven five if necessary for Anje,” he said of his family and him.
Tina Lee of Brownsburg came with family and friends in honor of her late husband, Brent Lee, who passed away in March after a two-year bout with ALS.
“I met Anje through an ALS support group,” said Tina. “I heard that she had been diagnosed and was living in Bargersville and I had some equipment that I was able to donate to her to help with some mobility during the summer. We became fast friends.”
“My biggest why I’m participating in these kind of things for fundraising for ALS is because it’s a horrible disease,” she added. “It’s been around over 130 years. There’s still no cure. We still don’t know why people get it. Only 10% of ALS victims are diagnosed with a genetic traceability strain, and … it’s 100% fatal.”
“I would basically continue to get the word out so we can raise money to find a cure because it’s sad that it’s rare enough that there aren’t funds that are helping find the cure or even find the cause for it,” she said. “I hate to see other families be devastated by this disease and sooner or later we’ve got to find a cure.”