Coming Sunday: Paddling for a purpose

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Hermosa Beach’s Tom Horton launches from the Catalina Island ithsmus a week from Sunday — Aug. 30, 6:30 a.m. sharp — for a 32-mile paddle across the frigid Pacific in hopes of reaching the Manhattan Beach pier before the other 100 or so competitors.

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But he’s got more on his mind than just the scenic trip.

His muscle memory will get him through most of it, but the memory of his mother, Peacha, battling through ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease — will push him even farther. Horton has committed to raising $50,000 for the Agoura Hills-based ALS Association (linked here), serving the greater L.A. region, in his mother’s honor.

We talk to the 50-year-old regional account director for Genzyme’s Genetics division about his preparation for the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race (linked here), and about how you can contribute to his cause (linked here).

Some other statistics about ALC to think about before you find this story:

== ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive, a neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure.

== Most people survive only 2-5 years from the time of diagnosis.

== The only drug for ALS was approved by the FDA, it is called Rilutek. Riluzole is the generic name for Rillutek. It extends life by approximately three months.

== About 30,000 people in the U.S. have ALS; 5,600 are diagnosed each year and 5,600 pass away each year.

Here’s a shot of Horton with his paddleboard pals, “The Donkey Crew,” after last year’s race (Tom is third from the left in the front row):

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