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Ataxia Walk N’ Roll to be Held on Town Common in August

There will be a walk on the Burlington Town Common to raise awareness of a rare neurological disease that greatly impacts those suffering from it.

On Monday the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to grant permission for a Walk N’ Roll on the Town Common for the National Ataxia Foundation.

According to the organization’s website, Ataxia is a degenerative disease of the nervous system. Many symptoms of Ataxia mimic those of being drunk, such as slurred speech, stumbling, falling, and incoordination. These symptoms are caused by damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that is responsible for coordinating movement. Ataxia treatment involves a combination of medication to treat symptoms and therapy to improve quality of life.

“People affected by Ataxia may experience problems with using their fingers and hands, arms, legs, walking, speaking or moving their eyes,” the foundation states. “Ataxia affects people of all ages. Age of symptom-onset can vary widely, from childhood to late-adulthood. Complications from the disease are serious and oftentimes debilitating. Some types of Ataxia can lead to an early death.”

Ataxia affects roughly one in every 50,000 people.

Locally the event is being organized by Doug Place, former owner of The Printing Place, who was diagnosed with the disease nine years ago at the age of 58. After his diagnosis he and his wife decided to sell the business they owned for over 30 years. In the years since, Place said he has been working to raise awareness of the disease that many have never heard exists.

“That’s really the point of our Walk and Roll, although there will be a few people affected by the disease the real goal is to raise the awareness of the community in Burlington to tell them about this and educate them,” he said during an interview in 2019 in the lead up to the first Ataxia Walk N’ Roll in town.

This year’s event is scheduled to be held on Saturday, August 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Click here to see a video BCAT did with Place and fellow organizer Donna Garzela in the lead-up to the 2019 event.