Saturday, June 15, 2013

Baseball and ALS Awareness go hand in hand...

ALS Awareness Night with the Suns
Last month I was asked if I would throw out the first pitch on ALS Night at our local minor league baseball stadium, home of the Jacksonville Suns.  In my continuing efforts to help raise ALS Awareness, I agreed.  As the day approached, I started to get a little nervous, thinking about my physical inability to throw a ball beyond a few feet.  Then I realized that there was no reason to be worried.  Seriously, what was the worse that could happen?  The ball wouldn't make it to the catcher?  So what, I'm there as an ALS patient, not trying out for the team.  With that in mind, the nerves went away and I started to get excited about this once-in-my-lifetime event.  It wouldn't be a MLB game and it wouldn't be televised, but I wouldn't have to do any public speaking so why not have fun with it!   

Lizzie reading Lou Gehrig's speech
Last Thursday, the big event arrived.  The stadium, which is really nice, is right on the river in downtown Jacksonville.  As it was ALS Awareness Night, they honored Lou Gehrig by having a NY Yankees number 4 jersey on display and Lizzie Danner of the ALS Association read Gehrig's famous farewell speech from July 4, 1939.  It is a moving speech, no matter how many times I hear it, and Lizzie did him proud with her reading. 

Finally, it was time for the walk to the pitcher's mound.  Knowing I could not throw the ball the full distance, when they announced my name I started walking from the mound toward the catcher, just a few feet, and we both chuckled a little bit.  I stopped, pulled back with my right arm, stepped forward with my left foot, and threw the ball like I still had the strength to do it.  The ball made it to the catcher (with one small bounce near his foot) and it was over.  I was happy, and proud, that I had agreed to be there, to participate in this event completely outside of my comfort zone, for this important cause.  
Throwing the ball to 2nd baseman Noah (Derek) Perio, #3
Family fun time at the game
When working toward the goal of raising awareness for something as uncommon yet incredibly important as ALS, I think it is best to attack it from every angle.  I appreciate that there are many aspects of raising ALS awareness that include fun for the whole family!  It was a good game (Suns won 8 - 2) with a couple out-of-the-park home runs. Go Suns!

Tim and me
During the game, I had the privilege of meeting another ALS Advocate, Tim Cummings.  I have known of Tim for a few months, since I became involved in the Walk to Defeat ALS in Jacksonville, but we had not met before the game.  Tim's wife had ALS and he continues to honor her dream of "A world without ALS" by being active in the ALS community and helping in many areas to raise awareness and funding. He is a lovely man and I am very happy to have had the opportunity to meet him, and to wish him a happy birthday, at the game. 

I want to thank Lizzie Danner for offering me the opportunity to help raise ALS awareness in this fun way and thanks to my family for being there to watch and cheer me on!

No comments:

Post a Comment