Wally Boughton and Gary Blocker were best friends. In 1990, an opportunity arose and they partnered to create the Blackberry Oaks Golf Course. During this time, Wally became diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, which is often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
ALS is a progressive and degenerative disease that affects the body’s motor neurons. Motor neurons are specialized nerve cells that carry impulses from the brain to the muscles. In ALS, the motor neurons begin to cease to function and prohibit muscle movement. At the time Wally was diagnosed, there was no known cause or cure for ALS, and death usually occurred in two to five years. Since then, through research, the symptoms of ALS are more treatable but there are still no treatments or drugs to cure the disease. Sadly, Wally Boughton passed away only three weeks after the grand opening of Blackberry Oaks Golf Course in 1993.
Immediately after Wally’s death, Gary and Diane Blocker organized the Wally Boughton ALS Research Fund and hosted a golf outing to raise money for ALS research. It was a huge success and continued annually for many years. The organization is now the Walter Boughton Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, managed by Wally’s granddaughters, Lauren and Kathryn Maly. The Wally Boughton Senior Open is part of the annual fundraising.
During the past 25 years since Wally’s death, over $1,000,000 has been raised and donated for ALS research and patient care. Presently, and for most of those years, the funds were forwarded to the Les Turner ALS Foundation in Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. These dollars have helped to establish and fund three world-class, research labs which have discovered different causes of ALS. With continued funding, can a cure for ALS be far away?
At Blackberry Oaks Golf Course, we are having a Wally Boughton September ALS Awareness month. Starting September 1st, we will be selling $5.00 raffle tickets to support the cause. The grand prize will be a 2019 platinum golf membership. Also, Blackberry Oaks Golf Course will be donating $1.00 for every round played during September. Of course, donations are encouraged and greatly appreciated and will be accepted at the golf course. We hope you consider helping us as we strive to help those afflicted with ALS and to support research to find a cure for this disease.