Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger Walk to Defeat ALS

Emmy Rossum and Katharine McPhee also stepped out to support veteran publicist Nanci Ryder at Sunday's event

Photo: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Bucket after bucket, celebrities dumped ice on their heads this summer in a viral movement that raised money and awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease.

And the star-studded touch that helped launch the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is continuing to do good for the cause.

Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger, Emmy Rossum, and Katharine McPhee were among the celebrities supporting the ALS Association at Sunday’s Walk to Defeat ALS in Los Angeles.

The cause is personal for these women. Witherspoon, Zellweger, Rossum and McPhee wore “Team Nanci” shirts to support veteran publicist Nanci Ryder, who was diagnosed with ALS in August.

“We just talked for hours and cried and talked, and after all of the crying, we said, “What are we going to do? How are we going to help?’ ” Witherspoon tells PEOPLE of Ryder’s diagnosis. “And she said, ‘I am going to change the way that people see this disease. I am going to fight, and I am going to raise awareness and money and people are going to know what ALS is – and we’re going to eradicate this horrible disease.’ ”

The BWR co-founder is “always going to be the boss,” says Zellweger.

“This is just another new chapter in our friendship,” she adds. “It’s been a long friendship, and this isn’t the first major change or challenge that she’s faced that we’ve shared.”

Rossum has known Ryder for 15 years, she says. When she received the email about her diagnosis, Rossum started to cry.

“Nanci is strong. She is a fighter,” adds Rossum. “Even though there is no known cure, if anyone can kick ALS’s ass, it’s Nanci.”


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