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CHS community organizing homecoming ALS walk for Connolly

The office staff at Concord High School has fielded one question more than any other this summer.

“What can we do? What can we do to help Gene,” said Lisa Lamb, Principal Gene Connolly’s longtime administrative assistant. The question has been posed countless times in emails, on the phone and in person since Connolly announced he had ALS on July 28, Lamb said.

A group of employees are offering an answer to the question. The group, led by Lamb and Varsity Club Adviser Chris Boezeman, is planning a walk to benefit Connolly and raise money for ALS research. The walk is scheduled for Sept. 27 at 11 a.m. and will coincide with homecoming weekend. The walk will begin at the senior student parking lot on Warren Street and is expected to follow the same route as the homecoming parade. Registration is $20 and includes a “Connolly Tough” T-shirt. To register or ask for more information, contact Lin Moulton at lmoulton@concordnhschools.net.

“We thought this is something we can do for him. I definitely think the viral Ice Bucket Challenge drew us to thinking we could do something together as a community,” Lamb said. “This is a way we can all come together.”

The walk will not be an official ALS Association walk (the Walk to Defeat ALS will be held Oct. 5 in Manchester), but proceeds will go to the organization while giving the community a chance to publicly support Connolly. “So many students and so many people have inundated us asking us what they can do to help,” Boezeman said.

Connolly has wholeheartedly supported fundraising and awareness campaigns, as long as they don’t interfere with the student learning. The walk will coincide with homecoming weekend, a time to promote school spirit with Concord students and alumni.

“Now every time someone comes up and says something to us, we can say, ‘Okay, we have this in the works,’ ” Lamb said. “It’s far enough away for us to be able to plan and soon enough for us to satisfy the people who want to do something to help.”

The parade and walk will precede the homecoming football game against Manchester Central, scheduled for 1 p.m.

When the Ice Bucket Challenge was going viral, many in the Concord area dedicated their challenge to Connolly. The movement struck a chord and showed a desire to support him. “He’s a huge part of everything that is done around here. He created the community,” Boezeman said.

The ice bucket dedications have been encouraging, Connolly said. “I am grateful for people who do a shout out for me. The most important thing is that it goes to ALS research,” he said.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @iainwilsoncm)

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