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Golf: Vialli and Mauro Cup returns, first without Vialli

Lou Gehrig's pro-am fundraiser reaches 18th edition

Redazione ANSA ROME

(ANSA) - ROME, APR 5 - The 18th edition of the pro-am ALS charity golf event set up by Gianluca Vialli and his former Juventus and Italy teammate Massimo Mauro, the 'Fondazione Vialli e Mauro Golf Cup', will take place on May 8, the first edition without former Samp, Juve and Azzurri star Vialli who died of cancer at the beginning of January.
    The event is aimed at gathering funds for research into ALS, Amiotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Motor Neurone Disease of Lou Gehrig's disease, an incurable nerve-wasting condition that disproportionately hits former soccer players.
    At the Barlassina Country Club at Lentate sul Seveso (Monza Brianza), some of the protagonists of this year's edition will be former soccer players Michel Platini, Andriy Shevchenko, Gianfranco Zola, and Attilio Lombardo; and, among the golf pros, Jorge Campillo, , Matthew Baldwin, Rafa Cabrera Bello, and Stephen Gallacher.
    "For 18 years," said Mauro, "we have dedicated ourselves with passion and commitment to organizing the Fondazione Vialli e Mauro Golf Cup, created thanks to a shared idea with our friends and supporters Peppo e Antonella Canonica.
    "When we began in 2004, we wanted to win a match that would be much better than any other football match, that is helping obtain a drug for ALS sufferers, who hitherto have not had any hope, because ALS is an illness that has no cure. We believe in it today more than ever, that's why we're not going to stop. We owe it to Luca, ourselves and our supporters." The funds gathered will be devolved to AriSLA - (Fondazione Italiana di Ricerca per la Sla), the pre-eminent Italian SLA research body.
    So far the Fondazione Vialli e Mauro has raised more than four million euros for research into ALS, which in America is known for the baseball great who died of it at almost 38 in 1941, Lou Gehrig.
    Partners of the event are the companies Celada, ERG and Norqain Italy.
    The Cup returned last May after a two-year absence due to COVID-19.
    Professionals, celebrities and amateurs faced off at the 2023 Ryder Cup venue, the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club outside Rome, in the 17th edition of the event.
    The competitors included former soccer players including Michel Platini, Laurent Blanc, Giancarlo Antognoni, Mauro Tassotti, Borja Valero, Christian Panucci, Simone Pepe, Alain Boghossian, Attilio Lombardo and Stefan Schwoch.
    Also taking part were top golfers including Puglia's Francesco Laporta, Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello, Scottish pair Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson, and England's Ross McGowan, winner of the 2020 Open d'Italia.
    In the latest research advance, an Italian study in January last year said the lack of an enzyme in the body causes the fatal nerve-wasting disease.
    The study by Milan's Mario Negri Institute and Turin's Citta' della Salute, published in the journal Brain, shows that the lack of cyclophillin A induces the terminal condition.
    Conducted in animal models and on humans, the breakthrough "could be a first important step towards developing a therapy," said the researchers.
    "We have to go back to the lab and assess whether this is the right path to stop the onset and progression of the disease," said Mario Negri researcher Valentina Bonetto.
    "If it proves to be so, it would be a very important first step towards developing a therapy for ALS".
    ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that results in the progressive loss of motor neurons that control voluntary muscles.
    The affected muscles are responsible for chewing food, speaking, and walking.
    Motor neuron loss continues until the ability to eat, speak, move, and finally the ability to breathe is lost.
    ALS eventually causes paralysis and early death, usually from respiratory failure.
    There is no known cure for ALS, and the goal of treatment is to improve symptoms.
    The disease became well known in the United States in the 20th century when in 1939 it affected Gehrig and later worldwide following the 1963 diagnosis of cosmologist Stephen Hawking.
    The average survival from onset to death is two to four years, though this can vary, and about 10% survive longer than 10 years.
    In Europe, the disease affects about two to three people per 100,000 per year.
    It hits professional soccer players on average two times more than the general population and Serie A players are hit six times more, a study from Milan's Mario Negri Institute said in 2019.
    There have been several high-profile cases in Italy of right-to-die ALS sufferers committing suicide due to the hopelessness and physical incapacitation of the condition, shifting the debate on assisted suicide and boosting parliamentary moves to legalize it.
    The flag-bearer in Italian soccer's campaign to explain the high rate of Lou Gehrig's Disease among former players, ex-Fiorentina and AC Milan striker Stefano Borgonovo, died of the incurable nerve-wasting condition at 49 in June 2013.
    "Ciao Stefano, hero", tweeted former Fiorentina teammate and Italy great Roberto Baggio while ex-Juventus and Italy forward Alessandro Del Piero called Borgonovo on his Web site "a great fighter who loved soccer and life".
    At the time of Borgonovo's death, other figures were released saying that the Lou Gehrig death rate among ex-players in Italy is 12 times that of the general population.
    Top anti-doping prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello has been probing more than 40 deaths for over 20 years.
    Doping, other performance enhancers, repetitive head trauma and pitch fertilizers have been touted as possible causes but scientists have yet to pin down the origin of the disease.
    Former Chelsea boss Vialli, who died on January 6 and whose tributes were led by Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini, his former boss and ex-Samp 'goal twin', and former Sky TV pundit Mauro, teamed up with the aim of helping solve the riddle and achieve effective treatment. (ANSA).