This week Major League Baseball acknowledged ALS with Lou Gehrig Day across the country. It was 81 years ago this week that 35-year-old outstanding player New York Yankee Lou Gehrig died from the terrible disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

ALS is a nervous system disease that weakens the muscles and impacts physical function.

Monument Park - Lou Gehrig
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It’s been 81 years since Lou Gehrig died from ALS and yet we still have no cure. Billions of dollars have been spent on research. It pains me to see that we have made so many strides in the last 81 years in the medical field and technology but still no cure for ALS.

ALS is personal to me. I have hosted many benefits here in New Jersey to raise monies for more research. I have known people that have succumbed to ALS and the pain upon hearing of the loss is like another hard shot to the gut. It hurts.

The disease got real when two years ago one of my very close college friends was diagnosed with ALS. My friend Chris Engler stands 7 feet tall and played basketball at the University of Minnesota where I went to college and then he changed schools and played for the University of Wyoming.


Chris was drafted in the NBA and landed with The Golden State Warriors, had a stretch with the Bulls and Bucks, and ended his career here in New Jersey with the Nets.

Chris is a smart man who after playing continued his education and became a teacher and a lawyer. He married his beautiful wife Cara and they raised their daughter Carina. Chris is the most down-to-earth nicest guy I have ever met. We had become friends fast and furious and have remained in touch every year for close to 45 years.

Chris Engler of the New Jersey Nets
NBAE/Getty Images

I was so crushed when I heard Chris got the diagnosis of ALS. I know what it does, I’ve talked to ALS doctors and nurses as well as ALS support staff and I know what’s coming with this terrible disease.

Midwest Gets Slammed By Powerful Spring Snowstorm
Getty Images (University of Minnesota)

Chris, in his typical take no prisoner attitude, jumped into finding what he could about ALS. We both heard of a new test drug and program that the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota are working on. The hope is that this new test drug and procedure would slow down the process of the debilitation of the muscles.

Time, which is so precious when you have this disease, will tell if it is successful until then I hope that you can send all those fighting this terrible disease good thoughts. They need them so does my man Big Chris. I send them every day.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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