I think the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is a great way to spread awareness for ALS . Visit the Ice Bucket Challenge website http://icebucketchallenge.org/about

The challenge has gone viral on social media and is all over the internet, hopefully one day there will be a cure, because no one person or family should ever have to endure this horrible disease. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one to ALS as my mother fought it for 5-years before it took her life….

ALS and My Mother

An amazing, strong and vibrant person who touched the lives of hundreds of people and was passionate about life passed away after a 5 year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She was a school teacher and loved teaching kids, it was her passion, until one day she had a difficult time writing on the white board. So we took her to the hospital and had a bunch of tests done, which later diagnosed her with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The doctors said she had 3-years to live and there is no cure for the disease she carries. I remember my mom sat my brother and I down at the kitchen table and told us a she is dying and that she doesn’t have much time left. She told us that she is sorry and that she really wanted to be around when we had kids but the disease will take her life before that happens….and she was right.

The next few years took a massive toll on my family as my step-dad, brother, sister-in-law and I did our best to be care takers and make my mothers last years as good as they can be. My sister-in-law spent hours with my mom, sitting and reading, feeding and copping with the illness. We watched as she went from walking and talking to needing a cane in the first year, then a walker and later a wheelchair. She was able to talk for a few years after the diagnoses, but that too became difficult and soon she could not speak. Her ability to eat soon became difficult, she would choke on her food, and later she would choke on her own saliva and gasp for air as her eye’s watered. In the end she couldn’t move a muscle in her body, and her head would bobble around in her wheelchair when we went outside. I remember sitting with her in the backyard soaking up the rays thinking to myself, I wish I could talk with my mom and have a conversation like we used to….but that favorite past time was long gone. The last few years of my moms life was the most difficult, the care she needed became more intense, her breathing became more difficult and each holiday that came around could be the last one we have together. It was the most helpless feeling any one person could have watching a loved one who was once so vibrant and full of life become the exact opposite because of a deadly disease that has no cure.

Watching my mother accept her condition and sustain a mostly positive attitude through it all has taught me so much about life and people and the short time we have with each other. I remember my mom telling me she was scared and that she missed her mother. There were times when I would lay my head down in her lap and lift her hand and put it on my head so I could feel her touch. The worst part about ALS is that while the body is deteriorating from the inside out, the mind is still complete and in tact. Though she could not move and had a difficult time swallowing her mind was completely healthy and functioned normal.

I was there when she took her last breath, she was calm & ready for her life to be over. I don’t think she wanted to live with the ALS disease any longer and stress and difficulties it brought to her family. The room was filled with family and we had football on the TV, I sat on the couch in front of her, my step-dad by her side holding her hand. She took her last breath ever so quietly as if she wanted to sneak out of the room without anybody noticing And just like that, the greatest person to ever be  in my life was gone. I think about her everyday, her smile, her laugh, the lessons she taught me & I can’t help but wonder what she would be doing today. But I know she is proud of me and that is enough – because one day…someday – I will see her again.

The official ALS can be reached in MA at http://www.als-ma.org – and nationally at http://www.alsa.org

Lou Gehrig

A first baseman who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees (1923–1939). Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, he played in  2,130 consecutive games which earned him his nickname “The Iron Horse.” Lou was a seven-time All-Star and six-time World Series champion, Gehrig won the Triple Crown in 1934 and was twice named theAmerican League’s (AL) Most Valuable Player. When the Yankees began their 1939 spring training in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was clear that Gehrig no longer possessed his once-formidable power. Even Gehrig’s base running was affected, and at one point he collapsed at Al Lang Field, then the Yankees’ spring training park. By the end of spring training, Gehrig had not hit a home run. Throughout his career, Gehrig was considered an excellent baserunner, but as the 1939 season got under way, his coordination and speed had deteriorated significantly

After six days of extensive testing at Mayo Clinic, the diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was confirmed on June 19, Gehrig’s 36th birthday.

Gehrig was the first MLB player to have his uniform number retired, and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 and on July 4, 1939 Gehrig delivered what has been called “baseball’s Gettysburg Address” to a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium:

Fans,  for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such fine looking men as are standing in uniform in this ballpark today? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift—that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies—that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter—that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body—it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed—that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.