The F.R. Newman Arboretum, which will be the site of the Walk for Dave this weekend, September 7th, 2017.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

The F.R. Newman Arboretum, which will be the site of the Walk for Dave this weekend, September 7th, 2017.

September 7, 2017

5th Annual Walk for Dave to Take Place in Botanic Gardens

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Cornellians and Ithaca community members will be walking in solidarity through the F.R. Newman Arboretum in the Cornell Botanic Gardens to raise awareness of Ataxia — a neurological disease involving a loss of full control of the body — during the 5th Annual Walk for Dave.

Walk for Dave started off as a high school health project conducted by Marc Alessi ’18.

“My [high school] classmates and I were required to volunteer for at least six hours in a charity or non-profit organization, but one of my friends and I decided to start our own fundraiser,” Alessi said.

This fundraiser took shape as a walk to raise awareness about ataxia and is dedicated to Alessi’s father, Dave, who passed away from the disease, Alessi said.

Originally held in Syracuse but now located at Cornell to spread awareness among students, the Walk will be held in recognition of International Ataxia Awareness Day on Sept. 25. Proceeds from raffles, food and drinks sold at the event will be donated to the National Ataxia Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the lives of those affected by the disease.

“Going into the 5th Walk, we’ve raised over $25,000 for the National Ataxia Foundation,” Alessi said.

The walk will start at noon, and to increase convenience and attendance, a shuttle service to and from B Lot to the Arboretum will be available.

In addition to raising awareness and fundraising, the Walk for Dave is an important personal project for Alessi, since his father and his brother were diagnosed with the disease.

“I simply cannot allow this disease to win, which is why I am trying to advertise the Walk as much as possible,” Alessi said.