Friday, July 8, 2011

Walk to Defeat ALS - Important Change!

We have some good news! They have added a new walk location that is not only closer but its also on a Saturday! We originally asked about the Irvine walk and were told that they didn't have one planned this year at that location but now it is listed here on their site. The new walk information is:

Irvine Walk - October 15, 2011
Location: William R. Mason Regional Park
Walk Check-in: 8:30 AM
Walk Starts: 10:00 AM

We are planning on switching our team over to the Irvine walk since it is so much closer and on a Saturday. Unfortunately that does mean a date change. If you have signed up for the Santa Monica walk and do not want to be switched over to the Irvine walk please contact me at and I will make sure your registration is not moved over. We are sorry for the change but we feel it will allow more of Caroline's friends and family to participate.

In related and very exciting news Ashlynn's Cupcakes for Caroline event in San Luis Obispo raised $1,200! Which means we exceeded our fundraising goal! They recommend each team raise $1750.00 and we have raised $2,150.00! That doesn't mean we should stop! Mark is planning on having a big fundraiser in the fall and Caleb would like to host a Cookies for Caroline here in St George.

If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me and I will post our new sponsor page when it is moved over to Irvine!

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 1939 -- ALS, Lou Gehrig and Me

We are missing our Sweet Caroline quite a bit today. She loved America!

Ashlynn is sporting Grandma Silly's 4th of July earnings today!

I found this article on Fox News today and wanted to share it.

July 4, 1939 -- ALS, Lou Gehrig and Me
By Fay Vincent

On July 4, 1939, at Yankee Stadium, before a full house, Lou Gehrig stood in front of a microphone and announced he was “the luckiest man alive.” His somber teammates were lined up behind their captain and stellar first baseman. One of them, Tommy Henrich told me Gehrig had not planned to speak but changed his mind and broke the hearts of all who heard him. Henrich never forgot seeing Babe Ruth crying openly when he came over to hug Lou after the brief talk.

Just a few months earlier Gehrig had been forced to break his remarkable record of consecutive games when his powerful frame began to fail. His speech is still well known as the defining act of a remarkable baseball legend. Gehrig’s talk was emotional because everyone knew he was seriously ill—fans were told he had a form of “polio”-- and though his disease was then not as well understood as it is today, the public and his teammates knew he was not ever going to play again.

When he died a few years later, the disease-- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-- was named and is still known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Ever since then, baseball and that debilitating disease have been closely linked.]

My school classmate and friend Franz Opper was born on that Fourth of July in 1939 and many years later, in the midst of a busy career in Washington as an official at the SEC and on the staff of Congress, he learned he had ALS.

He and his wife Barbara stoutly confronted the illness and for many years Franz kept up a lively correspondence with me in which his letters never betrayed his declining health. When I was elected baseball Commissioner the letters took on a baseball flavor as Franz began to give me baseball advice. The letters were fun to read, full of wit and wry comments. And then came one with a serious request.

Franz asked me to try to arrange for him to come to Yankee Stadium for one final baseball game. He and Barbara knew their request was a challenge in light of what had become by then his complete disability. He was totally inert on a respirator unable to move any part of his body. He could only blink. He was able to communicate as his nurse help up the alphabet and pointed to the letters in turn until he blinked at the one he wanted to use to spell out a word. His letters were the product of determined and tedious effort.

I agreed to try to help and turned to George Steinbrenner the owner of the Yankees for assistance. And here comes a story about George that is witness to his generosity to those with acute needs. When I explained what Franz had asked and the many complexities the Yankees organization and I would have to face if we were to proceed, George was immediately supportive. “It is not going to be easy for us and him,” he responded, “ but we will help all we can.”

That was all I needed and with the deft cooperation of the Yankees, we brought Franz to a final game at the Stadium. His bed had to be tilted so he could see the field from the owner’s office Steinbrenner had made available but somehow we managed. The logistics effort was considerable but the touching letter I later received from Franz made it all worthwhile.

When I called George to thank him, he shrugged off my profuse appreciation –“I am glad it worked out for him.” I had the sense he was a bit embarrassed by letting me see his gentle side. This was not as well-known as the tough guy side. But I never forgot what he had made possible for my friend Franz.

Not long after the baseball visit, Franz died. He had endured many years of total paralysis, but never lost his good cheer.

It is impossible not to think of Franz when I see a tape of that memorable Gehrig speech at Yankee Stadium on the day he was born.

Interestingly, George Steinbrenner was born on the fourth of July as well.

It is often said baseball brings generations together. In baseball, Franz, George and I came together briefly. On this Fourth of July I will remember them and Gehrig and ALS. Presinding from the poet-- Life like baseball is a series of tragedies separated by times of sheer joy.

Fay Vincent is a former CEO of Columbia Pictures Industries and from 1989-92 served as the Commissioner of Baseball.

This video is really good and has a portion of his farewell speech in it.

Here is the full text of his Farewell speech:

"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 this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

"Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? 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 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 may have had a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Set in stone

My Parents monument has arrived.

Its beautiful! I was blessed to see it the day after it had been set. Its very shiny so pardon the reflections in the headstone.

The boys approve :)