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Altoona family shares story of loved one diagnosed with ALS on Lou Gehrig Day

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - June 2nd, 1925 is the day Lou Gehrig became the starting first baseman for the New York Yankees. It’s also the day the Hall of Famer passed away from ALS in 1941. Wednesday evening, Little Leaguers at Wakanda Park in Menomonie honored Gehrig’s legacy, while also raising awareness in the pursuit of a cure.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is named after the Hall of Fame baseball player for the New York Yankees. It’s a neurological disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It causes weakness leading to paralysis and death.

Wednesday evening, the Kulig family and the Altoona 10-year old Little League team took part in Lou Gehrig Day. ALS has impacted their lives as Lucas’ grandmother Linda Lyche was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease a year and a half ago.

“Heart-wrenching disease as we all know and for Linda’s sake, an active, healthy person, to get diagnosed with something like that is very tough news,” says Paul Kulig.

Linda’s daughter Jill Kulig adds, “I feel like this is a way to take a negative and turn it into a positive in bringing awareness with the major leagues but sharing it with our son’s baseball team and we all know that sports brings out a lot of elements and character.”

Diane Fergot is a Care Services Coordinator with the ALS Wisconsin Chapter, she says Linda’s battle with ALS helps shed light on the importance of trying to find a cure.

“That personal connection is so critical to really understand what that means. You can talk and you can explain and describe but when you see someone who is living with this, and how it’s impacting them personally, physically, emotionally how it’s affecting their family, the caregiver, the spouse, the adult children, the grand kids, I think it’s really important to understand that it’s really quite devastating,” says Fergot.

“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth...”

And on a day where baseball remembers a legend, Lucas proudly wore Gehrig’s number four patch on his uniform. His way to pay tribute to his grandmother.

“Absolutely, anything to support my Nana. And so when I went and got the patch and sewed it on this morning, he was beaming with pride. And wanted so much to represent ALS and my mom and the whole community behind those fighting and those who have lost the battle with ALS.”

If you’d like to know more about Lou Gehrig’s Disease and what you can do to help and donate, go to The ALS Association Wisconsin Chapter

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