Monday, August 25, 2014

(ALS) STANDS FOR, AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Special events and holidays are overwhelmingly festive occasions...but there are exceptions. When my son Andrew was in second grade, I wanted to clarify why some holidays were more like observations or remembrances. So while his contemporaries (and many adults) were quick to wish a “happy” Memorial Day or a “happy” Veterans Day, I thought it was important for him to see the distinction. I said, “Yes, it’s great to have a barbeque on Memorial Day or get off from school on Veteran’s Day but these days are really reserved to acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice people risked, to keep our country free and to maintain our American way of life.”

Similarly, I want to clarify the deeper meaning of the trending, “ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE,” fad.  First, I want congratulate the participants because through their use of a fun gimmick on social media, the word about ALS awareness is spreading. Their efforts have generated incredible amounts of money. These funds hopefully will support research to minimize this horrible disease and lead to a cure.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is simple. Before turning an ice water bucket over their head, that person through Facebook, will challenge three friends to do the same, or make a contribution to ALS.

IF YOU CAN STAND THE THREAT OF MAJOR "SHRINKAGE" THE ALS ICE WATER CHALLENGE CAN BE BUCKETS O'FUN.

I have watched dozens of ice water videos, starring my family, friends and coworkers. Whoever generated this idea was a genius. I just wish more of the splashees took a step back from the personal entertainment aspect of this activity and demonstrated a better understanding of ALS.

Most importantly, ALS by itself is meaningless and by abbreviating the heinous name, the awful nature of the problem is trivialized. I feel that the seriousness of this devilish illness would be appreciated more if everyone knew, ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Simply stated, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by muscle spasms, rapid and progressive weakness due to muscle atrophy, difficulty speaking, swallowing and breathing. This disease is non-contagious but usually leads to a cruel, debilitating death.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis occurs in one out of 150,000 people. Most victims are between 40 and 60. It is believed that it is caused by a virus, exposure to neurotoxins or heavy metals, heredity, defective immune systems or enzyme abnormalities.

We should consider ourselves lucky if we don’t know anybody who is...or has suffered from this affliction. That’s why I commend my wife Sue for being the only person I heard on all the videos I watched, who put a face on this menace. She did it by including in her ice bucket message that her friend Grace lost a long, hard battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

I’ve seen this disease upclose too. One of my favorite, regular customers (Alí) vanished from the casino for about a year. When he reappeared, he was being pushed in a wheelchair by an attendant. His once strong thirty-five year old body was twisted and shriveled. Ignorantly I asked, “Are you okay?” Through his foreign accent, he struggled to gasp, “I got Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” I was stunned. Far worse, I never saw my friend again.

(1959 PHOTO). ALI AND I FIRST STARTED CHATTING WHEN HE SAW CANARSIE ON MY NAMETAG. HE SAID HE LIVES IN MY OLD NEIGHBORHOOD, IN ONE OF THE APARTMENTS ABOVE THE CANARSIE THEATER.  OUR FRIENDSHIP BLOSSOMED WHEN I TOLD HIM MY PARENTS LIVED IN ONE OF THOSE UNITS TOO, BEFORE I WAS BORN.

Chances are, Alí had no idea who Lou Gehrig was or why he was connected to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Lou Gehrig was one of the all-time greatest major league baseball players. His dazzling accomplishments on the field,(1923-1939), have made his name one the most recognized in all professional sports.
LOU GEHRIG WAS BORN IN 1903, WAS DIAGNOSED WITH AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS IN 1938 AND DIED FROM IT, AT AGE 37, IN 1941.

Lou Gehrig’s prowess as a power hitter and his seemingly limitless durability earned him the nickname, “The Iron Horse.” But it was the unfortunate coincidence that this Herculean, elite Hall-of-Famer, so noted for showing up at the office, (fourteen straight years, covering 2,130 consecutive games) could be disabled, crippled and soon there after killed by a condition that would eventually bear his name.
IT WAS BELIEVED THAT GEHRIG'S LONGEVITY STREAK WOULD NEVER BE BROKEN.  BUT WHEN CAL RIPKEN SURPASSED THE IRON HORSE WITH HIS 2131st CONSECUTIVE GAME ON SEPTEMBER 6, 1995, RIPKEN WAS FOREVER IMMORTALIZED IN BASEBALL HISTORY.

I saw a list of celebrities who died from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Some of the names I recognized were;


• Actor, Dennis Day (1916-1988)

• Chairman, Mao Zedong (1893-1976)

• Musician, Huddie “Lead-Belly” Ledbetter (1888-1949)

• Actor, David Niven (1910-1983)

• Politician, Jacob Javits (1904-1986)

• Baseball Player, Jim “Catfish” Hunter (1946-1999)
WORLD REKNOWN THEORETICAL PHYSICIST STEPHEN HAWKING (1942-PRESENT) AND FOOTBALL'S STEVE GLEASON (1977-PRESENT) ARE THE ONLY ALS VICTIMS ALIVE WHOSE NAME I RECOGNIZE.  
Whether you specifically participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or not...and whether you call it ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease, I hope this wasn't  merely a random, childish stunt for you. The significnce of this challenge is, is to come away from the event with a better idea of this sickness' scope and be inspired to help. 

For those of you who made a cash contribution, I think it's great to get involved and volunteer.  However, your idealism and enthusiasm shouldn't get in the way of the harsh reality that many charities, (even reputable organizations) have poor road records in regard to the percentage of each donation dollar going to the where it was intended.  So please be careful where you donate and be conscious of (easily researched), "administrative costs."

"MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND," is dedicated to NOT telling you how to spend your money.  But please realize that the Internet can provide easy access to charity navigators that will help separate worthy causes like St. Jude Children's Research Hospital from bogus, non-transparent, less accountable ones.

I certainly wouldn't want to sway anyone away from helping the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis cause. If it happened to Lou Gehrig, it could happen to any of us. 
LAST MONTH WE "OBSERVED" THE 75th ANNIVERSARY OF LOU GEHRIG'S GUT-WRENCHING 4th OF JULY 1939 FAREWELL SPEECH. TO HELP "REMEMBER" AND "ACKNOWLEDGE" A REAL LIFE SUPERMAN CUT-DOWN BY THE KRYPTONITE KNOWN AS ALS, CLICK ON THE LINK (below) TO VIEW IT.

http://search.mywebsearch.com/mywebsearch/redirect.jhtml?pn=1&ct=RR&action=click&redirect=GGmain.jhtml&queryTerm=gehrig+farewell+speech+youtube&cb=CD&pg=GGmain&p2=%5ECD%5Exdm003%5ES04317%5Eus&n=77fc41c7&qid=268ef737ba7b4f67b6934ef0e883a91e&ss=sub&st=bar&ptb=D6B92608-79BD-4909-92A0-160CFD832118&si=CKuH4unForUCFQPd4AodLCEADg&searchfor=Lou+Gehrig%27s+Farewell+to+Baseball+Speech&ord=2&&tpr=jrel3&ots=1408823287968

And if you still have a job..."HAPPY" LABOR DAY!

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