Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
ALS: Does anyone in Giants Nation know what this is…?
Now we all remember Tom, Jerry and Eli taking the Ice Bucket Challenge, but did you really know what ALS meant?
— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) August 14, 2014
Did you know that’s it’s actually Lou Gehrig’s Disease? Did you know that’s why people like Adam Sandler are dumping ice water on their heads all over the Internet? Yep. ALS = that one Yankee’s baseball disease. You know, Babe Ruth’s old teammate, what’s his name… Lou Piniella…? Wait, no, it’s Lou Gehrig. That’s it. Until today, I didn’t know much more than that. Now…
Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.
ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
ALS can strike anyone.
Having typed that, let me state that I don’t know anything about the disease. Sure, I’ve seen the Lou Gehrig speech in my life a few times, but that’s about the extent of my experience with the monster that is ALS.
Right NOW America is filled with interesting dynamic (as it often is). In the Mid-West (Ferguson, Missouri) you have a mini-war going on in a small town between the National Guard, Police and Civilians alike over the death of Michael Brown, even though we’re all Americans. Meanwhile, Robin Williams actually killed himself — SUICIDE — which inadvertently started to spread awareness on something that’s ate at my head for well over two decades: Depression and Anxiety. At the time, I wrote this piece on the subject titled:
But this ALS stuff is something to see, as everyone from Jerry Reese, Tom Coughlin, Steve-O, Theo Epstein, Ben Affleck, Weird Al, Lady Gaga, Andy Reid and even Vincent Kennedy McMahon (Dammit) has participated. And in some ways, it’s really cool (literally), but in some ways, I wonder if anyone actually learned anything about the disease. However, please keep in mind that I’m a skeptic and a critic by nature, so that’s just my internal cynicism at work. It comes from being a football fan, you have to question everything you see on the gridiron, because your eyes mixed with delusion and hope can mislead you.
Anyway… that intuition — right or wrong — makes me ask: why now? Why 2014? Lou Gehrig died a half year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 on my mother’s birthday, 15 years before she was born. Quite frankly, it was a long time ago. So how did this start? According to TIME.com, it was somewhat of an accident:
But how did a campaign that has drawn in celebrities from Oprah and LeBron James to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg actually start?
Chris Kennedy, a golfer in Sarasota, Fla., was nominated by a friend to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge, which at the time, had nothing to do with ALS. The campaign was not tied to any specific charity, and participants would select a charity of their choice for donations. Kennedy’s friend had selected a charity that benefits a young child with cancer in the area. Kennedy, passing the challenge along, then selected ALS because a relative is suffering from the disease. Kennedy nominated his wife’s cousin Jeanette Senerchia, whose husband Anthony is the one suffering from ALS. Kennedy posted this video on July 15—what appears to be the first instance in which the Ice Bucket Challenge and ALS were linked.
So that’s one theory as to how this exploded into a phenomenon? Interesting. GMEN HQ wonders aloud — is it really working? Are people learning about the disease? Will this country use that money to actually work towards a cure? Is this as good as it looks on paper? It certainly seems it is.
One thing is for sure, it’s everywhere. Really, it’s really cool to see all these celebrities and other known people participating in something so big in a country with a growing reputation to bicker over causes because of our differences in beliefs and opinions as a free nation.
However, it’s bittersweet to know that our country is facing such a massive altercation in the Mid-West at the same time as all this positive goodness.
That fact made me think about the time we live in now versus the leaders we once had, and how exactly our Nation arrived at this point in history. And what our old leaders like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, on and on to Abraham Lincoln would speak about the state of today’s America for all citizens to consider.
Now — I’m an idiot people (first and foremost) — but I’m also creative, so I decided to rewrite the Gettysburg Address as if Abraham Lincoln were addressing the nation as it is today.
Here’s what I feel it might say. *As you read this, just sprinkle on a touch more diplomacy and class, as those things are beyond my written abilities*:
[Written as if it was delivered today by Abraham Lincoln...]
Ten score and eighteen years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great test of our American humanity in form of social media criticism and in the moment reaction by the people, testing whether our nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We all meet and argue on a great battlefield of discussion called the Internet. We now have come to dedicate a portion of our lives to that beast, as we all have something to say about everything, including the final resting places for those who battled here and gave their lives so that our nation might live; even if the critic within us, never fought in any American war. Justifiably, it seems altogether fitting and proper that we should do this social media exercise in a land of freedom and opinion.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this American land while criticizing every detail of it. Those actions, combined with instant reaction, counter the freedom our ancestors fought and died for. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here from sea to shining sea, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract with comments on the Internet. The world will little note, nor long remember what American’s say here if we keep breeding stupidity and hate, especially if we as a people forget what they did here in our past to become such a beautiful nation. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — education of children, change in perception, and motivation for the laziness of our citizens. It’s from these honored dead ancestors, that we as American people, take a concentrated, increased action and devotion to worthy causes for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that no American dead shall have ever died in vain — that this nation, together, shall have yet another new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Nor shall it chase its’ tail in the blame game called criticism. In its’ stead, we shall rise up as a Nation and truly live as free Americans that care about and respect one another.
I love words, it was incredible to read the power in the original speech, thinking about the context and time when it was written. Somehow, after all the destruction, brutal injury and death caused by the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln managed to use words to simultaneously honor the fallen and lift up the pieces of a falling Nation and impact America forever.
As a football writer, I’m supposed to talk about the gridiron, about the passion of being an NFL fan, loving a team, watching a game with your children. What it’s like to see your team win vs the sadness that emerges when they lose.
Personally, I love the idea of creating a human connection with our readers. Making them feel, hear, see, taste and touch with our words in their memory and phonetic ushering of thought. I love it.
However, I also love this country. In my life, I’ve caused trouble, I’ve been mean, I’ve been filled with hatred and negativity. I’ve been dismissive of peoples’ diseases and problems, babies and bills. I’ve been a selfish American citizen that only cared about one thing: ME.
Not much has changed, I’m still selfish, I’m still mean, I’m still insensitive and long-winded. I’m not claiming to have had an epiphany and changed completely. That’s shenanigans. I just am who I am, like you are who you are. It’s hard to truly change.
But I am more self-aware these days. I do notice the good things in life, like the positives of your Giants being 3-0 in the preseason. I notice the impact things like the Ice Bucket Challenge and Robin Williams’ death are having on our great American Nation. I definitely see it.
For me, one of my only talents is writing. You may not think I’m that great (hint: I’m not), but OF the things I can do at all, this one is one of my top gifts outside of being an idiot in public. Comedy and Writing have helped me look at my flaws just like you look at your Giants’ team and notice every little thing they need to change in order to have a legitimate chance at winning.
For America, I just hope we continue as a Nation to gain some perspective and address things that matter. To really think about diseases like ALS and what you would do if you caught it. What would you do? I want people to continue to think about Anxiety, Depression and Suicide versus what you would do if you felt inclined to do the latter because of the first-two. What would you do?
For New York Giants fans, I’d like you to think of Jerry, Tom and Eli doing the Ice Bucket Challenge and truly try to understand why they accepted the challenge versus where they will go with that information from here. I’d like you to think of the situation in Ferguson, Missouri and ask yourself: “Will the Giants win the Super Bowl?”
After all, this is a football blog, but that question lends itself to perspective. What’s important? Who are we? How is America doing? Where are we going? Why are we going there? And…
Is that really where we truly want to go?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis = A deadly disease that kills individual American citizens one-on-one.
ALS vs USA?
We the people have a fighting chance. Giants Nation, remember not to just simply dump ice water on your head… open it up for some knowledge too. Our country needs us all to fight all of its ailments.