I just watched the movie trailer, and I sit on my couch in tears. I had to stop it early….and makes me think about what life has in store. One never knows their destiny.
I will never forget, in college at Suffolk University, we had to write an essay: are people born good, or bad. One never knows. I also wonder why there are so many bad people out there, and the good ones we loose too soon. They say god only gives us what we can handle, and I don’t know how every day of his life he wakes up, and in the late stages of A.L.S., he still goes to work, where he coaches three girl’s basketball teams that he started four years ago. He travels, wheelchair bound, and speaks in various engagements at middle and high-schools in South Florida. Jeff’s commitments to society, and his urge to not give up, even on his worst day, make me consider him a hero, because through educating the youth, and by sharing his personal story, experience and struggles, he informs people of all ages about Lou Gehrig’s disease. Anyone who knows Jeff Fogel, would have never ever imagined this incredible, humorous, happy soul, who basically grew up in my home as a child, is battling A.L.S.
At mere 44 years old, Jeff was diagnosed in 2012. If you decide to not click on the A.L.S. link above, the disease basically stops your motor neurons to reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in A.L.S. eventually leads to their demise.
After a call with Fogel just a few weeks ago, he told me his story and how this all occurred, and I swear, for the life of me, I will never understand how and why. Jeff shares “four years ago, my right arm was giving out on me and I wasn’t experiencing much pain. Because I played football, and I threw my arm out, I thought the reoccurring twitching for a few years that followed this injury was from the injury, however it was the start of my disease.”
Currently living in Pembroke Pines in Broward County, Jeff made the decision to become a voice and inspiration.
“I’m speaking at schools….I was sitting around this summer, off of work, and I wanted to give back to the community….so I decided to talk to kids 7th grade and up to show them the movie I made.”
Yes, that is the light at the end of this tunnel. Jeff’s life has been turned into a interesting documentary, titled “Who is Lou Gehrig?,” thanks to Gil Green, who Fogel shares “I grew up with him. I decided to reach out to him when the ALS fund started the Ice Bucket Challenge. They wanted me to be a poster boy and spread awareness. Gil and I set up a meeting and we came up with a script, and we decided rather to do a short creative film than a long documentary. FYI: Gil Green does the openers for the Miami Heat and is good friends with Udonis Haslem. That is how this magical project came to be. There is a form sequence that goes in and out of my imagination…and Haslem, well, he is the executive producer.”
Currently, when I asked Jeff about his condition, he explained that a recent aspiration pneumonia, which is part of A.L.S. (its just a matter of time), leads to your swallowing becoming weak, and fluids ended up in his lungs, so now he is on a feeding tube. Considering he is 4-years deep:
“the doctors think I’m beating the odds. I’m still talking and breathing…and working with the kids. It’s keeping me strong. It’s my true medication.”
Regarding a cure, he told me that clinical trials will be coming up, but there is nothing promising yet but hopefully there will be…One can only hope.
Here is how I need your help, and for those of you who read my blog, I never ask for a thing. Jeff is on disability with Humana, but, he does not have Medicaid, so his private caretakers are costly. In order for him to carry on, in the most comfortable way possible, please know that any form of contribution helps, whether a one time donation, or monthly, believe me when I tell you: it is greatly appreciated.
Header photo of Haslem, Fogel and Green, taken from MiamiNewTimes.com