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A Man, a Meal, and a Mission

A little event took place in March for the 20th consecutive year called the Evening of Hope. Jeff Kaufman founded this event with the hopes of making a difference for patients and families affected by ALS. I would have to believe Jeff would be proud the way his family and the chapter have carried on his cause. After being the guest of honor last year, I was honored to introduce this year’s guest of honor Steve Gleason. This is a man who like Jeff, has taken his diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease head-on.
What made this year’s event different was that Steve could not make it up from New Orleans so we had to use technology to bring him into the ballroom through Skype. I have to be honest, there were a lot of nervous people who put the evening together hoping and praying that technology would not let us down. What made this perfect is that technology is part of core message and mission that Steve Gleason is trying to bring to the forefront of the ALS community. His hope is that ALS patients realize there is a lot of life left to live even after a devastating diagnosis of ALS. And until a cure is found, technology is now available to help us live life to the fullest and still be an important part of our families and communities. As I stood on stage talking with Steve I almost felt that using Skype to interact with those in the ballroom was better than if he somehow had been able to make the trip.
After the presentation, the applause and the standing ovation was well deserved. Technology did not fail us and it certainly did not fail Steve. It was a perfect example to show that the body of an ALS patient may crumble but the heart and soul will never die. In the past people like Steve could not have participated in an event like that, in fact, many patients were told to just prepare for death. But now hope has arrived through technology enabling every ALS patient to continue living a quality life. Let the scientists and medical community find the answers to slow down and eventually cure ALS. In the meantime I like many others will go on living.
The 750 guests waited to eat their dinner, what they didn’t realize is that their meal had already been delivered. The meal was the message that Steve spoke about. Now it was up to every person in that room to digest the information and put his words into action. A great meal was served that night by a great man who continues to inspire all of us facing great obstacles. A man, a meal, and a message to carry us through another year until the 21st Evening of Hope in 2014.

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