06/16/2003 12:54 PM ET
Schilling supports fight against ALS
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling provided this story for the ALS Association in honor of the anniversary of Lou Gehrig's 100th birthday.
Walking to the mound, warming up in the bullpen, taking a few laps in the outfield. This is part of my daily professional baseball routine and most pitchers will tell you they take these activities for granted. But imagine having the ability to walk, throw or run taken from you.
This is the story of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and the dreaded symptoms 30,000 Americans deal with every day. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease and as a baseball player, I'm quite familiar with Gehrig and the enormous legacy the 'Iron Horse' left behind when he died from ALS in 1941, just two years after retiring with the major league record for consecutive games played.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gehrig's birth on June 19, I invite every baseball fan to take a moment to remember Gehrig's valiant career and so many people currently living with ALS. The ALS Association (ALSA), the only national not-for-profit health agency dedicated solely to the fight against ALS, will celebrate Gehrig's birthday throughout this baseball season and I encourage you to join in your community's activities to fight this incapacitating disease, which attacks the central nervous system.
ALSA is the largest private source of funding for ALS-specific research in the world and since 1991 has awarded more than $24 million to fund research to identify the cause, means of prevention and a cure for ALS. The ALS Association is leading the way in aggressively treating the debilitating effects of this disease and improving the quality of life for those who have ALS and for those who care and love them. Yet, the cost to patient's families is enormous, averaging up to $200,000 per year.
ALS first causes muscle weakness or stiffness and, eventually, paralysis of the limbs and trunk as well as a deterioration of the muscles controlling vital functions such as speech, swallowing and respiration. This dreaded disease brought down the 'Iron Horse' and today 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year.
I'm part of a very special team, called Lou's Team, created by The ALS Association to support the search for a cure for ALS. Those of us on Lou's Team believe that bringing people together can inspire and motivate others to help our cause. Celebrities, professional athletes and public personalities included on Lou's Team are Mitch Albom, sports columnist and author of Tuesday's with Morrie; Ernie Banks, Hall of Fame first baseman for the Chicago Cubs; Steve Beuerlein, quarterback for the Denver Broncos; Billy Ray Cyrus, country music artist and star of TV's Doc; George Brett, Hall of Famer from the Kansas City Royals; Steve Garvey, former Los Angeles Dodgers star; Mrs. Helen Hunter, widow of the late Hall of Fame pitcher Jim 'Catfish' Hunter, another victim of ALS; and PGA Tour professional Tom Lehman.
Baseball's historic tie with ALS is the tragic story of Lou Gehrig. All of us who play the game owe a debt to Gehrig, not only for his incredible skills and remarkable consistency, but also for his courage and compassion in fighting his disease. We must remember that everyone with ALS has the same capacity to be a hero and champion.
On June 19, please join The ALS Association in your community to celebrate Gehrig's birth and bring greater recognition to ALS and those who are fighting this debilitating disease each and every day of their lives. To find out more about an ALSA chapter in your area, visit www.alsa.org or call (818) 880-9007.
By Curt Schilling / Courtesy of ALS Association