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BHHS Students Seek Support for ALS Walk

Beverly Hills High School students prepare for Oct. 20 "Walk to Defeat ALS" as part of service learning portion of curriculum following moving assembly with Hollywood screenwriter Scott Lew, who's batting ALS.

Credit: BHUSD
Credit: BHUSD
Service learning students from Beverly Hills High School are organizing a school and community team to participate in the two-mile “Walk to Defeat ALS” on Oct. 20 starting at 10:30 a.m. at Exposition Park.

Beverly Hills Unified School District students and community supporters are encouraged to join "Team BHHS" for the fundraising event. Local Beverly Hills businesses including Chipotle, Urth Café and Starbucks are providing prizes to those that sign-up and participate in fundraising.

If interested in donating funds to one of the team’s walkers or want to join Team BHHS and walk with the school, visit the team website at tinyurl.com/teamBHHS.

Often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages two to five years from the time of diagnosis.

The “Walk to Defeat ALS” has raised over $177 million to support the vision of the ALS Association: create a world without ALS. The donations toward this year’s walk have accrued close to $20 million to date with 94,897 walkers registered for this nationwide event. Up-to-date information can be found here.

Richard Kraft, a long-time substitute teacher at BHHS and a volunteer organizer for the Los Angeles ALS Walk, introduced the BHHS Service Learning students to the ALS walk in 2012. They decided to participate in the walk and, as a class, raised more than $500 to fight ALS.

“The students had such a positive experience participating in the walk last year that they decided to expand their efforts and recruit the entire BHHS community to join Team BHHS for this year’s walk," he said.

“We really felt we made a difference by being involved in this event," said Pearl Koven, senior and the team co-captain. "Our goal for this year is to raise $2,500 or more.”

A school assembly was held at the high school to educate and inform students about Lou Gehrig’s Disease and to recruit fellow high school students to join Team BHHS at the upcoming Walk. At the assembly, students watched a multi award-winning, 16-minute documentary film entitled “Jujitsu-ing Reality” which follows the experiences of Scott Lew, a successful Hollywood screenwriter who is currently battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Since Scott can speak only through a voice synthesizer, his thoughts in the film are voiced by actor Seth Green as viewers learn what it is like to live with ALS and still persevere in the creative process of screenwriting. Scott uses modern technologies, such as a laser-controlled computer screen and special software that allow him to painstakingly write one
letter at a time. The film is currently in consideration for inclusion on the Academy Award short list. The film can be viewed online at https://vimeo.com/49352654.

The BHHS service learning class goal is to activate the entire school to participate in community service and fundraising programs. District-wide, service learning enables students to grow and learn through active participation in community service activities that are clearly connected to their academic program.

Funding and support from The Beverly Hills Education Foundation and the PTA’s help to support co-curricular programs, such as service learning, across all of Beverly Hills' Unified Schools.

In the group photo, from the left are: (L-R)Pearl Koven (Senior, Service Learning Team BHHS Co-Captain), Hilary Kraft (Walk to Defeat ALS Organizing Committee Member), Julia Shabanian (Junior, Team BHHS Co-Captain), Richard Kraft ((BHHS Teacher, Walk to Defeat ALS Organizing CommitteeMember), Scott Lew (Subject of Jujitsu-ing Reality film), David Higgins (Producer of Jujitsu-ing Reality film), Julie Himot (Regional Director of Signature Events, The ALS AssociationGolden West Chapter), Ann Plageman Lew (Wife of Scott Lew and interviewed in Jujitsu-ing Reality film)

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