Lou Gehrig's Disease - Motor Neuron Disease - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Thought it had been cured by now? Still no known cause. Still no cure. Still quickly fatal. Still outrageous.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Offer To Help WIth The Little Things

Michael Goldsmith, who accomplishes big things, speaks wisely of how all can make a difference.

From The BYU Universe --

BYU professor promotes ALS awareness

With the bases loaded, the batter stepped up to the plate again. With two strikes against him, he nervously looked at the pitcher. Quickly the ball released from the pitcher and came whizzing toward the plate. With a surge of confidence, the batter swung. Crack. The ball went sailing into the air.

Michael Goldsmith, a law professor at BYU, hit a triple to get his Little League baseball team back into the game. It was a defining moment for him.

“It gave me confidence so that I never let two strikes worry me again,” he said.

When Goldsmith was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2006, baseball became his refuge and his medium for awareness of ALS.

“Watching part of yourself die every few days makes it very personal,” he said. “Life has now become a race against the clock,” he said.

After attending a Baltimore Orioles baseball camp in 2008, Goldsmith decided to become an activist for ALS. He wrote an essay and submitted it to Newsweek magazine.

“I knew that my writing skills exceeded my baseball skills so I submitted an essay to Newsweek,” he said. “This was very much a long shot because Newsweek publishes just one essay out of 200 submissions, but this was better than no shot at all. I knew if I didn’t try I had no chance at all.”

Newsweek published the essay, and it caught the attention of Major League Baseball commissioner, who contacted Goldsmith and put him in charge of the event for ALS awareness.

Goldsmith said, “I was just a small part of a superb team whose efforts inspired me and provided a helpful distraction from my own difficulties.”

On July 4, Goldsmith threw the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s famous speech on the disease named after the Yankee Hall of Famer.

“I was naturally very excited but I tried not to personalize it,” Goldsmith said. “I viewed myself as representing everyone afflicted with ALS.”

As Goldsmith released the ball, it zoomed toward the plate.

“It was by far the worst throw I have ever made,” he said. “But my effort showed the crowd how pitifully weak ALS makes you. They gave me — and everyone I represent — a five minute standing ovation.”

Goldsmith’s mission is to promote ALS awareness and help encourage donations to finance research for a cure. He gave advice to BYU students on how to help with ALS patients. Since professional caregivers are expensive and insurance doesn’t cover in-home assistance, small acts of kindness help.

“If you offer to help with the little things — running errands, grocery shopping, house or yard work — it will make a huge difference,” he said.

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