This year marks the 108th birthday of one of baseball’s most heroic players: Lou Gehrig. Born on June 19, 1903, Gehrig personified grace and strength, both as a New York Yankee and as a private citizen. But what would Gehrig think about the progress that has been made in the fight against the disease that bears his name?
Sure, we can point to some important milestones such as the discovery of the SOD1 gene, the development of the first mouse model and the FDA-approved drug Rilutek. More recently, scientists have new theories about the disease mechanisms, and promising research is being conducted in gene therapy and stem cells. The TREAT ALS drug discovery program is leading us closer to finding more effective treatments, and promising phase I, II and III trials are currently in the pipeline.
Even so, Gehrig would not be very satisfied with the progress thus far, and frankly, neither is The ALS Association. However, we refuse to allow disappointment in current results deter us from our resolve to find better treatments for ALS.
Gehrig was known as “The Iron Horse” for his resilience on the field, and The Association draws from his spirit and from the spirit of all the people fighting this menacing disease to strengthen our resolve to put an end to ALS through funding research, encouraging the government to invest more into ALS programs and raising public awareness about Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Here are some of the initiatives The Association is leading over the next few months to raise awareness about ALS and the need for new treatments and a cure.
“Speak Out Against ALS” is The Association’s first multi-media event designed to raise awareness about Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Radio stations, local professional baseball teams and The Association have partnered to boost ALS awareness to an entirely new level. In selected cities around the country, radio stations are dedicating up to 12 hours of radio time to educate the public about ALS. People with ALS and their families will share their stories about living with the disease. Radio personalities will interview celebrities, take calls from listeners, and give information about local awareness activities at baseball parks in the area. To learn more about Speak Out Against ALS, visit www.speakoutagainstals.org.
Once again, The ALS Association is partnering with Major League and Minor League Baseball teams, and other ALS organizations for the 4♦ALS Awareness initiative, a League-wide effort to support the battle against ALS. At designated games during July, teams and the ALS community will commemorate Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech at ball parks around the country. Everyone can get involved by making a pledge for every hit made by their favorite Major or Minor League team. To find out more about the exciting activity, visit Covering All the Bases® Hitting Challenge.
In addition, The State Farm® Go to Bat Game is an event that begins on July 11 and continues throughout the remainder of the season. Individuals who visit www.statefarm.com/gotobat will have the opportunity to join their favorite charity’s team and play an online baseball game. Each week, the charity team with the highest online batting average will receive $18,000. At the end of the baseball season, the charity team with the highest cumulative batting average will receive an additional $25,000. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to help fight ALS.
In honor of Lou Gehrig and every person touched by ALS, The ALS Association invites everyone to join us in the fight to create a world without ALS.