It’s probably safe to say that you’ve seen the Ice Bucket Challenge making the rounds on social media. The Ice Bucket Challenge was meant to raise awareness and funds for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association. So far, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $100 million, a 3,500% increase over last year. Simply incredible.
The challenge involves people dumping a bucket of ice water over their head and recording it on video. They then post that video onto their social media page and nominate others to do the same in an effort to raise awareness for ALS. Those nominated can either accept the challenge or donate to an ALS charity of their choice, or do both.
With the tremendous success that the ALS Association has seen, we would like to take this time to remember Lou Gehrig. Lou Gehrig played first base for the New York Yankees for 17 seasons (1923-1939). He set numerous records including most career grand slams and most consecutive games played. He was forced into retirement at age 36 upon the diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or as it commonly became known, “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. The diagnosis came as a shock to everyone: Lou, his wife, The Yankees and it’s hundreds of thousands of fans. The following is a transcript of a message to his wife Eleanor upon finding out his diagnosis:
“The bad news is lateral sclerosis, in our language chronic infantile paralysis. There isn’t any cure… there are very few of these cases. It is probably caused by some germ…Never heard of transmitting it to mates… There is a 50–50 chance of keeping me as I am. I may need a cane in 10 or 15 years. Playing is out of the question…”
Shortly after his diagnosis, on July 4th, 1939, Lou delivered what is considered the greatest speech by any baseball player. “The Luckiest Man on The Face of The Earth” was an emotional speech filled with gratitude towards everyone around him. Despite his “bad break” he had so much to be thankful for.
Six months later Lou was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. In 1940 Lou was appointed to a ten year term as the New York City Parole Commissioner based on his firm belief in parole, properly administered. He considered it a great public service. Six months after that Lou died on June 2, 1941. Though Lou’s time was short, his impression on Major League Baseball is unforgettable.
With the huge rise in ALS awareness let us remember Lou Gehrig. One of the greatest players to have ever stepped on the field. If you are interested in learning more about the ALS Association please visit their website for more information on volunteering and donating.