Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS aka Lou Gehrig's Disease) became something of a rallying point for triathletes everywhere when Jon Blais, while suffering from ALS, had the immense courage to undertake an Ironman in 2005. The next year, he was a spectator in a wheelchair. The next year, he was dead. In his wake, triathletes rolled across finish lines around the world in honor of the “Blazeman” and to raise money and awareness for ALS research and victim support.
To me, the story of Jon Blais was a tragic human interest story. It made me consider Lou Gehrig’s disease a little more, but it didn’t compel me to do anything. So many diseases, charities, and fund raising opportunities compete for my interest; invariably, I pick those that hit closest to home.
And then, I heard that an old friend from my hometown of Fredericksburg, VA, had been diagnosed with ALS.
It had suddenly come closer to home.
ALS is a frightening disease. They don’t know what causes it; there is no known cure; and most people die from it within 2 to 5 years of being diagnosed.
I wish I could be there in person to run the race. It is typical Debbie-fun with a 7:30 p.m. start and a post-race beach party.
With all the running that she did, for Debbie it was all about the fun. (I do believe that she participated in some sort of “bare naked” run once…although, I am not sure she was “bare naked.”)
When I saw her in May, she looked pretty good to me, but told me that she is hardly running these days.
This from the woman who was running multiple marathons a year around the country as little as 3 years ago.
So, even though I can’t go back home on the 20th, I am registering for the race, making a donation to the ALS Association, and, on that Saturday, setting off on a 10k run at 7:30 p.m. eastern time (6:30 p.m. local time for me) so that I, too, can “run for McGee.”