By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — July 4th marks the 75th anniversary of baseball great Lou Gehrig’s famous “Luckiest Man” speech following his diagnosis of ALS.
Doctors are getting better at recognizing the neurodegenerative disease, but there’s still little hope for patients. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on one local woman’s battle to change that.
There is still no cure for ALS, which is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the hall of famer.
There is one FDA approved drug that modestly slows progression of the disease. Doctors are working hard to find better treatments, but for one local woman, they may not come soon enough.
Fifty-eight-year-old Carol Kleiner has been rowing for 10 years. She helped found the Whitemarsh Boat Club in Conshohocken and is trying to not let anything stop her from participating in the sport she loves.
“Getting out in a boat takes you away from all the headaches of the day,” said Carol.
Carol is battling ALS, which is especially difficult because it slowly causes the body to become paralyzed. It’s what took Lou Gehrig’s life.
“You’re really smacked in the face with the reality that you have a fatal disease, but you have absolutely no idea when that will happen, how it will progress, and sadly, there’s nothing anyone can do for you,” said Carol.
Since her diagnosis last September, Carol’s voice has changed and her arm has weakened. But she refuses to sit back and let the disease take over her life. Instead, she’s launched a group to help support her and ALS research.
“Carol’s Crew is simply a way for me to raise awareness, to raise funds that will go to Project ALS for research,” said Carol.
Local rowers are pledging money and holding fundraisers to raise money to find effective treatments.
“There is nothing that I will do differently than Lou Gehrig did, and that’s in a 75-year span. For me, personally, it’s heartbreaking,” said Carol.
Carol is being treated at Penn Medicine, where doctors are working on several studies to better understand the disease and to help slow the progression. Money she raises will go to some their research.
Major League Baseball and all of the teams, including the Phillies, are commemorating the anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s speech by trying to raise awareness and money in the search for a cure.
As a special tribute, first basemen from across the league, including Ryan Howard, put together a video reciting lines from the speech intertwined with Gehrig delivering his famous words.
For more info on Carol’s Crew, click here.
For more on the MLB’s efforts to raise awareness about ALS, click here.