O’Loughlin to participate in ALS benefit

Sep. 4, 2014 | 5 Comments

BY JOHN BERGER / jberger@staradvertiser.com

Celebrities get countless requests to lend their name to good causes. Sometimes they do it for the publicity, but when Alex O’Loughlin, known to the world as Steve McGarrett of “Hawaii Five-0,” participates in Saturday’s second annual Hawaii Walk to Defeat ALS at Kapiolani Park, it’ll be personal.

"Hawaii Five-0" star Alex O'Loughlin draped in maile for the season five blessing. (SA photo by Craig T. Kojima)

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2014

“Hawaii Five-0″ star Alex O’Loughlin at the show’s season five blessing earlier this year.

“My wife’s mother passed from ALS,” O’Loughlin said in a phone interview Wednesday. “My kids don’t have a grandmother because of this disease. My wife doesn’t have a mother and I don’t have a mother-in-law.”

ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is an invariably fatal disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. (It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease for the famed New York Yankees first baseman who succumbed to the ailment in 1941.) As it progresses, ALS sufferers lose the ability to move and speak, and eventually are unable to swallow or breathe on their own. In most cases their mind and senses continue to function normally.

“To watch what it does to families and watch someone die in such a horrible way with no chance of a cure … ,” O’Loughlin’s voice trailed off for a moment. “That’s the thing about this disease, there’s not even a ‘chemo’ of sorts. There’s just no hope, and I pray as we all do, that one day if we raise enough money and put enough energy and time into that we will find something for people who are suffering from ALS.”

The cause of ALS is unknown and it does not appear to be inherited genetically.

“It’s just out of the blue,” said O’Loughlin, who is married to surfer/model Malia Jones. The couple have three children. “My wife’s mother was a triathlon runner. It’s a great and cruel riddle.”

O’Loughlin was one of many actors and celebrities to support ALS research by participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge, a grassroots fundraiser/awareness campaign that has gone viral thanks to video posts by participants world-wide. He was challenged by “Five-0” writer/producer Peter Lenkov and enlisted fellow cast members Daniel Dae Kim and Jorge Garcia to do it with him.

“We called out the president of CBS, Les Moonves — a number of people called him out — and he graciously and heroically accepted the challenge. We thought we were sort of taking it to another level using big Gatorade-size ice buckets but we’ve since looked at a whole bunch of (videos) and there are some pretty impressive ones out there,” O’Loughlin said.

“I’ve seen so many high-profile people getting in on this, and the best part is that it’s a fun way to do it and everyone’s kind of challenging each other, but it’s really stirring up a lot more awareness of ALS.”

Looking forward to season five of “Hawaii Five-0,” O’Loughlin wouldn’t go into specifics regarding what awaits McGarrett but it sounds like fans can expect some surprises. Hawaii will get a sneak peak at the season premiere at a Sunset on the Beach screening in Waikiki on Sept. 13.

“There have been some shifts with the team. There’s been some new additions. There’s some characters we’ve had to say goodbye to but the core team is still there,” he said. “McGarrett still battles with the loss of his mother (and) we’re going to be exploring some new stuff about his father and that loss.

“It’s a big season opener, we’re certain you’re not going to be disappointed, and we’re looking forward to seeing everybody on the beach next week.”

Online registration for the Hawaii Walk to Defeat ALS ends at noon Friday, with on-site registration at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Kapiolani Park. The two-mile walk starts at 9 a.m. Click here for more information and to register; visit the ALS Hawaii website for more information about the disease.
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John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at jberger@staradvertiser.com.

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  • alavenia

    I wish I could be there, this is a great cause, Alex makes us so proud!!

  • TerriF

    Wish I was there but I’ll be there for SOTB. I’d love to take part if I was around. He is so good to everyone

  • Angela Gerstner

    Alex is just great in his support of various charities – not only when he has personal reasons as with the ALS Association. It’s one of the main reasons (aside from his fantastic work as an actor) why his fans love him. I suppose I don’t have to mention that I’m one of them.

    Those fans who cannot participate in the “Walk to Defeat ALS” with Alex, can support his efforts, anyway! Alex is part of the “H50 ALS Warriors” team which has set up a fundraising page to raise money for ALS research and for helping ALS patients. This is the page on which fans can donate to the ALS Association: http://web.alsa.org/goto/H50ALSWarriors

  • Terry FiveOs

    Anyone who would like to join other Hawaii Five-0 fans in supporting Alex’s fight against ALS can donate to one of the H50 ALS Warriors!

    http://web.alsa.org/site/TR?team_id=287213&fr_id=10139&pg=team

  • Astrumporta

    Small point, but ALS can be genetic — about 10% of cases are genetic. See http://www.alsa.org/about-als/genetic-testing-for-als.html