Major League Baseball and its 30 Clubs will pay special tribute to Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig on the 75th Anniversary of his iconic "Luckiest Man" speech by joining forces with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) organizations to raise awareness for the disease, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Major League Baseball will donate $300,000, collectively, to these organizations that are leading the fight against ALS - ALS Association, ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI), Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and Project A.L.S. - while Clubs playing at home on July 4th will conduct special on-field ceremonies to commemorate the anniversary of the speech and honor the legacy of Gehrig, who passed away on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.
"When Lou Gehrig delivered his historic farewell speech at Yankee Stadium 75 years ago, he indelibly linked our National Pastime to the fight against the disease that would bear his name," Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said. "As the fight continues today, it is our privilege to pay tribute to the Iron Horse's enduring legacy of courage and nobility. In his memory, and for all those who are affected by ALS, Major League Baseball is honored to do its part to advance the cause in the hopes of finding a cure."
As part of this effort, Major League Baseball is unveiling a special commemorative 75th Anniversary patch, which will be worn by all players, managers, coaches and umpires on July 4th. The New York Yankees will be commemorating this initiative on July 2nd. Additionally, a special video will be played in all ballparks featuring one first baseman from each Club reciting a line from Gehrig's speech (Excerpt at the end of the release).
In order to raise additional awareness and create a call to action, MLB.com will provide promotional support online, including links to MLBCommunity.org where visitors will be directed to a site to donate directly to the cause, across MLB.com, Cut4.com, all 30 Club sites and through official MLB and Club accounts on social media channels, including Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram, with the hashtag #Gehrig75. All donated funds will be shared equally by all four ALS organizations. MLB.com will have complete coverage of the events at each Major League ballpark with photographs, video highlights, interviews and stories from its Club beat and national reporters. MLB Network will air special programming around the 75th Anniversary, including the Academy Award-winning film about Gehrig's life and career, "Pride of the Yankees," on Sunday, July 6th at 9:00 p.m. ET.
ALS is a disease that attacks nerve cells called motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, leading to weakness and eventual paralysis of all voluntary muscles, including those used for breathing and swallowing. An estimated 30,000 people in the United States have ALS at any given time and death often occurs within five years of diagnosis. Currently, there are neither effective treatments nor a cure for ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease. However, ALS research is at a pivotal and hopeful moment with more than 30 known genes linked to ALS and dozens of clinical research trials enrolling worldwide.
For more information or to donate, please visit MLBCommunity.org.
ABOUT ALS ORGANIZATIONS
About The ALS Association
The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at www.alsa.org.
About ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI)
The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is the world's largest ALS-dedicated drug development organization. With 30 full-time, industry trained, drug development experts on staff, the nonprofit institute screens 25-30 compounds a year, and has screened over 300 since its inception in 1999. ALS TDI is internationally recognized for its work to optimize preclinical models of neurodegeneration for clinical translation, and has over 15 active partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and other biotechs from around the world. Located in Cambridge, MA, ALS TDI is funded by over 150 community grassroots initiatives, foundations, grants, and bequests. Rated a four-star charity by CharityNavigator.com, more than 86% of each dollar raised is spent directly on the Institute's mission: to discover and develop effective treatments to end ALS. For more information, visit www.als.net.
About Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world's leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to saving and improving the lives of anyone with muscle disease, including muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures; by providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide; and by rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising and local engagement. Visit mda.org and follow us atfacebook.com/MDAnational and @MDAnews.
About Project A.L.S.™
Project A.L.S.™ is a non-profit 501(c)3 devoted to understanding, treating, and ultimately curing ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Founded in 1998 by Jenifer Estess, her family and friends, Project A.L.S. has become the new paradigm for brain disease research. ALS is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that, combined with the closely related Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, is a 21st century health crisis. In ten years 1 in 25 Americans will be affected with a neurodegenerative disease. www.projectals.org.
Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" Speech (Abbreviated Version)
"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.
I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?
Sure I'm lucky... When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift-that's something.
When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies-that's something.
When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter-that's something.
When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body-it's a blessing.
When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed-that's the finest I know.
So, I close in saying that, I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."