Menno Valley Sound to play at fundraiser

Band has a very personal reason for supporting the ALS Society of Canada’s Walk to End ALS on Sunday

Last updated on Jun 22, 23

Posted on Jun 22, 23

3 min read

Former Woolwich councillor Larry Shantz has no troubles filling his days since opting not to run again in last year’s elections. One of those activities, playing guitar with Menno Valley Sound, will be on display this weekend as the band does its usual bit for the ALS Society of Canada’s Walk to End ALS in Waterloo.

As it has done for years, the band will perform at the event in honour of founding member Tom Musselman, who died in 2010 after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“Tom and I got together way back when we were teenagers, I guess, and started singing. Then we kind of enhanced the group as we went along,” said Shantz of the formation of what would become Menno Valley Sound.

“We just get together and do songs that we like, so it goes right from gospel to country to light rock to just about every genre.”

With the passing of Musselman from ALS and, later, drummer Sam Fackoury from cancer in 2017, the current lineup features Shantz on guitar, harmonica and vocals; Charles Kruger (guitar, vocals); Brad Simpson (bass, electric violin, banjo); Mark Reusser (vocals); Scott Morlock (drums) and Marcia Shantz (vocals).

While they’ve polished their sound over the years, Shantz says the group remains “a bunch of friends getting together” rather than a professional act.

“Since COVID happened, we slowed down quite a bit. We used to do about 12 or 13 different things a year. Most of them, I would say 90 per cent of them, were fundraisers for not-for-profits – we’d go to nursing homes and that kind of stuff,” he said. The odd time, we’ll do a banquet here or there, and we get some remuneration for that. At the end of the year, we all get our heads together and decide what we want to do with the funds and donate it to a worthy cause – ALS for a number of years, the House of Friendship, that type of thing.”

The band’s association with the ALS Society goes back more than a decade, with the members performing at the local Walk to End ALS.

Typically, the band performs during the registration period prior to the walk itself, then again afterwards at the get-together when participants return, Shantz explained. The venue for this year’s walk on June 25 is new – the Albert McCormick Community Centre – so he’s not sure what the setup will be.

“We’ll be there, and we’ll be happy to do whatever we can.

“It’s not about Menno Valley Sound. It’s about ALS, a hideous disease, and we do it in honour of Tom. He’s not the only band member we lost: Sam Fackoury went to a different type of disease, cancer. It’s been a tough go for a bunch of friends.”

When the band takes the stage, those in attendance can expect a mix of musical genres, but mostly in a light, easy-listening vein appropriate for occasion, said Shantz.

The event itself is the biggest fundraiser for the ALS Society, which hosts 22 such Walks to End ALS during June. The K-W walk is the last of the series.

“It really is celebrating June as ALS awareness month. It’s our biggest fundraiser, and we are hoping to raise $1.9 million across Ontario for this event,” said Sheila Dorsch, community lead for the ALS Society of Canada. “Waterloo Region is the very last to kind of welcome this entire month of those celebrations and fundraising.”

Money raised by the Walk to End ALS supports both research to find a cure and to provide community services to those afflicted by the disease and their families.

“Statistically there are 3,000 Canadians who are living with ALS, and 1,000 of those are living in Ontario. Anyone registered with the ALS Society of Canada will be assigned to a community lead like myself. So no matter where you are in Ontario, you do receive our resources and our services to help navigate the healthcare system. Typically, 1,000 people are registered each year, and 1,000 die each year of this disease,” Dorsch explained.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an unrelenting and currently terminal disease. It gradually paralyzes people because the brain is no longer able to communicate with the muscles of the body that we are typically able to move at will. Over time, as the muscles of the body break down, someone living with ALS will lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow and, eventually, breathe. Four out of five people living with ALS will die within two to five years of their diagnosis, the ALS Society reports.

“The idea of the day is to raise some funds for ALS, and hopefully we can get enough dollars that they can figure out what the problem is and find a cure,” said Shantz of event set for Sunday. Registration starts at 9 a.m., with the walk itself starting at 10 a.m. The five-km route wends its way through the nearby area and back again to the community centre. More information can be found online at

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