This morning I was called out by my mother to participate in the ALS ice bucket challenge. I thought about doing a post of myself taking the challenge a couple of weeks ago, but the thought of being drenched in all that ice cold water got the best of me and I backed down. Leave it to my mother to push me over the edge for a worthy cause. I replied “challenge accepted” to my mothers call out as long as we did the challenge together.
This was more than just following a popular trend for our family. My mother had been called out by her husbands nephew whose mother (my step-fathers sister) died of ALS six years ago. It was touching to watch his video as he choked back his tears while filming his own challenge. It made this cause come to life for us and reinvigorated my resolve to participate in the challenge.
To assure that my heart was in the right place and that this video was not just about me getting caught up in participating in this movement to show my video on social media, I made sure to make my donation before the filming took place. When the thank you page for the donation came up I was shocked to see that 88.5 million dollars has been raised in just 29 days! I had heard the total was around 65 million.
Before I get to my video, I want to take time to remember two people that suffered from ALS but left a lasting legacy of how to face the darkest trials in life with grace and without bitterness.
Just over 75 years ago, on July 4th 1939, Lou Gehrig gave his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. The “Iron Man” of baseball had come to say goodbye and to thank his fans for the last time after ALS had forced him to retire from the game he loved. He said as he choked back tears “Today I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the Earth… I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.” His record of consecutive games played would stand for another 56 years. How many games would his record have been extended by if he had not fallen victim to ALS? Gehrig never felt sorry for himself. Instead, he considered himself lucky for all he had been given and for all he still had to live for.
The other person I am familiar with that suffered an died from ALS is Morrie Schwartz. The subject of one of my all time favorite books “Tuesdays With Morrie.”
Getting diagnosed was hard for Morrie because he was such an active participant in life. He used to go dancing every week and would move to the music without caring about what anybody in the room thought. All Morrie cared about was that going out dancing brought joy into his life.
The picture below was taken after ALS had taken a significant toll on Morrie’s body.
The thing I admire most about Morrie was that he maintained a positive attitude despite his dire circumstances, just like Lou Gehrig had. When asked in an interview if he felt sorry for himself, Morrie replied candidly…
“Sometimes, in the morning. That’s when I feel around my body, I move my fingers and my hands — whatever I can still move — and I mourn what I’ve lost. I mourn the slow, insidious way in which I’m dying. But then I stop mourning. I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life. It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it is also wonderful because of all the time I get to say goodbye. Not everyone is so lucky.”
As this challenge continues to saturate our social media feeds, let each video remind you of those that have suffered from ALS and the legacies of courage and optimism in the face of insurmountable odds that they have left behind for those of us that are so much luckier than they were.
Now, my video…
It was sooooo VERY COLD!
One more time in slow motion…
Now for my call outs. I decided to call out people that I feel can get this challenge out to the most people. I call out my brother and lifelong partner in crime Matthew Bernard, fellow fitness bloggers Michele Phillips from A Pace Of Balance and Janae Jacobs from The Hungry Runner Girl, and my former college class mate Brooke Walker from KSL’s Studio 5.