CRANBERRY TWP — At Taylor Allderdice High School, the now 65-year-old Richard Quinn was reminiscent of a Manfred Mann song, with members of the swim team saying they'd never see nothing like him — the “Mighty Quinn.”
On Saturday, family and friends took to the streets — from Unionville Road to Aberdeen Drive — to raise awareness of and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, a devastating illness with which Quinn was diagnosed in 2014, with a team name reminding them of the walk's purpose: “Mighty Quinn's 4 a Cure.”
ALS is an invariably fatal illness in which nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord deteriorate, causing patients to progressively lose the ability to walk, talk and breathe.
The average life expectancy for someone diagnosed with the disease is two to five years, and it gained significant attention in 2014 during the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”
While the Mighty Quinns would ordinarily walk in downtown Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the ALS Association encouraged its members to instead walk near their houses this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Township resident Beverly Huston, Quinn's sister and the team's organizer, said they started walking after Quinn was diagnosed, and the cause only became more important when one of her friends who had moved from the area received the same ALS diagnosis.
“We walk for both of them and anybody else who has it or has passed away from it,” she said.
Huston said the team raised around $4,000 this year, the highest total she's mustered since the group has started walking. Twenty-seven people participated in this year's event.
“It has been totally amazing to me,” she said, to raise such a sum in a time when people are going through financial woes.
Huston said all money raised goes to the Western Pennsylvania Chapter ALS Association chapter, which she said provides innumerable services to people living with the disease.
While Quinn has received much of his care via the Department of Veterans Affairs, Huston said she has no doubt the nonprofit would have provided him with the same care.
Quinn, a resident of the North Hills, walked in the first year's march and was present at the second, though in a wheelchair.
Although he's no longer present at the yearly events, he still lives for his family, Huston said, and his family and friends still walk for him.
Jack Marcinick of Cranberry Township, a friend of the family, said he walks for “the cause and great fun,” being around a group of people so invested in the same thing.
Joe Pawlak, also of Cranberry, said he walks not just for Huston's friend and Quinn, but also because somebody in his company also developed ALS.