Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating progressive neuromuscular disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Lou Gehrig was a Hall of Fame baseball player who played his career with the New York Yankees in the 1930s and 40s (See below). ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries, typically striking men and women between the ages of 35 and 70. Over 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year. Between 5 and 10% of those cases are familial, occurring more than once within a single family line.

ALS is characterized by a degeneration of motor cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness and, as the disease progresses, severe impairment of mobility, speech, swallowing, and respiratory function. In the advanced stages, ALS care can cost up to $250,000 a year. Average life expectancy, without invasive mechanical ventilation, is approximately two to five years from diagnosis. But with advances in research and improved medical care, many are living longer, more productive lives. Half of all affected live at least three years after diagnosis; 20% live five years or more and up to 10% will live more than ten years.

While recent research has shed light on possible causes of ALS, its cure remains a mystery. However recent advances and increased funding for research make this truly a time of hope.


Who Was Lou Gehrig?
Lou Gehrig's accomplishments on the field made him an authentic American hero, but his tragic early death from ALS made him a legend. A tireless worker with a record 2,130 consecutive games played (this record has since been broken by Cal Ripken, Jr.) Gehrig spent his whole career with the New York Yankees. Gehrig is considered by many to be one of the greatest ballplayers of all time. He, along with Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, had won multiple World Series, batting titles, Home Run titles and Most Valuable Player titles. His farewell speech to baseball fans around the world has become immortal saying, in part, "Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth... So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."

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