“ALS” stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. In baseball circles it’s often better known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. In the tiny part of my brain that entertains thoughts about my own mortality, it’s grouped with things like cancer, tragic accidents, and violent crimes. If there was a way to humanize such things, I would kick them in the groin with steel-toed work boots, and then I’d keep kicking them until my leg fell off. After that, I’d just start kicking them with my other leg. At some point, I’d look like that one knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yes, I’m typically a sarcastic, practically unstoppable force of pessimism on the move from one rant to another. Things like ALS simply give me something on which to focus all of my energies for a short time. If there is a better cause than that of trying to improve the human condition, then I’m not currently aware of it. If we can collectively lift up others without pushing others down, then I’m all for it.
St. Louis has an ALS Association Regional Chapter. Did you know that? That chapter sponsors an Annual St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS®. This year’s walk will be held on Saturday, June 25, 2011, at Forest Park. Music will be provided by the Lightnin’ Bottle Band. They may not be Lada Gaga, but at least they probably won’t show up on stage dressed as eggs. If you are interested in registering as a team or as an individual, please go to www.walktodefeatals.org, or call The Association’s office at 314.432.7257. If you already have plans but things change at the last minute, I understand that you can show up from 9:00-10:00 am the day of the Walk and sign up then as well. The Walk begins promptly at 10:00 am. There is a 1 and 3-mile route, but participants are not required to walk the entire route to participate. Actually, you can probably skip, sashay, or even samba the entire distance for either route, and I doubt that you’ll hear too many complaints. All participants will receive a Walk to Defeat ALS® t-shirt for raising $25 or more.
The Walk starts and finishes in front of the Visitor/Education Center in Forest Park. Amazingly, it is one of 180 walks scheduled this year by ALS Association Chapters nationwide to increase awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and raise funds for local patient programs and national research. The St. Louis Chapter’s additional 2011 walks are in Peoria, IL and Springfield, IL. This year’s goal is to raise over $300,000 at the St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS®. If you are really motivated and enjoy walking, you can try to attend more than 1 walk. Better yet, just send more money.
Over the last year the number of patients The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter serves increased approximately 13%. The Association provides patients and families with respite care; equipment loan, family mentor, augmentative communication and assistive technology programs; nutritional supplement, transportation and emergency assistance. Caregiver recognition, community partnership programs, and a pen pal program for children are also provided. The Association has provided information and education to over 2,000 in the medical community through healthcare newsletters, in-services, seminars and various mailings. The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter provides programs and services, at no cost, to ALS patients and their families in Eastern Missouri as well as Central and Southern Illinois.
Each year, approximately 6,000 Americans will hear the frightening words, “You have ALS,” and approximately 6,000 Americans will die from ALS each year. ALS is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow, and breathe. ALS has no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. There is currently no cure for ALS and the cause is undetermined. ALS is usually fatal within two to five years after diagnosis. Perhaps no better example of how quickly ALS can rob a person of life has existed than the example of Gehrig himself. His decline from seemingly indestructible man to his passing took about 2 years from the time of his diagnosis.
For the record, it was actually on July 4, 1939 that Gehrig gave his famous speech which has come to be known as “The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. He passed away on June 2, 1941, just 17 days shy of his 38th birthday. Click on the link below for the clip of Gehrig’s speech.
In the video, Gehrig looks like the picture of ideal health. It’s hard to believe that he was gone less than 2 years later. If we have the ability as a people to make a change for the greater good, then I believe that we have the responsibility to make that change. Let’s take a swing a swing at ALS. Better yet, let’s make it a BIG swing. I subscribe to theory that you should swing hard just in case you hit something. A good friend of mine (@cardsfreak5 on Twitter) already has a team started. If you are interested in joining her team, just click the link here. She’s actively involved in fundraising for ALS work every year, and she’s also a huge Cardinals fan. She knows a little something about taking a swing at a challenging opponent, so please help her out.
For additional information about the St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS® on June 25, 2011, please contact Angela Rickard, Development Associate, at 314.432.7257 or firstname.lastname@example.org