Thursday, March 30, 2006

Charlie Wedemeyer

Throughout his lifetime Charlie Wedemeyer has been an inspiration to others. He played quarterback for the Michigan state team and was national athlete for the state of Hawaii in the 1960s. He went on to coaching football and was promoted to head football coach for the Wildcats in 1977.

Just a year later in 1978, Wedemeyer, at age 32, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, the debilitating disease that attacks motor neurons, slowly causing the person with ALS to lose his or her ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. At the time of his diagnosis, doctors said Wedemeyer would only live one to three more years – it’s been almost thirty.

Wedemeyer, now 59, is a testament to the phrase `life goes on.' His life didn't stop with the diagnosis or when faced with the effects of ALS. Through the help of his wife, Lucy, Wedemeyer continued his everyday activities, including both teaching and coaching. He taught math until 1981, and coached football until January 1986 in a golf cart on the sidelines, with Lucy by his side reading his lips to interpret plays and instruct players.

Wedemeyer is a great example of living life to its fullest, overcoming the odds and achieving great success. He passed those lessons on most recently to the Spartans as they prepared for play in the Silicon Valley Football Classic in 2001. With Lucy reading his lips, Charlie spoke to the players the day before the game about the importance of teamwork, and concluded by saying, "Never give up."

The Spartans didn't give up, defeating Fresno State 44-35, and the same goes for Wedemeyer, three years later he still hasn't given up.

Today, he can only move his eyes, eyebrows, lips and is on 24-hour-a-day life support. Through the years, Lucy gently and patiently loves and cares for him.

In 1993, Charlie and Lucy founded the Charlie Wedemeyer Family Outreach, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping ALS patients and their families by offering hope through raising funds for research and patient services, by raising awareness, and by way of example.

My humblest salutation to Charlie for his perseverance and Lucy for her unconditional love.

1 comment:

Jason Ong said...

ALS... that's the same disease that the evil one used to cripple Jason Becker... :(