The Ice Bucket Challenge has been an overnight phenomenon. It raised awareness of ALS and about $110 Million Dollars in the last few months. Many family and friends of ALS patients accepted the challenge, pouring cold ice and water on their heads, in front of their cell phones, posting the videos on their social media network and donating money to ALS research. Celebrities received publicity by following suit and challenging other celebrities. It is a great example of how social media can be used for a good cause.
I have a personal connection to this terrible neurological disease called ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig Disease, named after the great New York Yankee baseball player who contracted the disease at the height of his career. He announced his retirement to the astonishment of the entire sports world. I am a caretaker for my wife, Diane, who has ALS. She has lost her ability to talk, to eat food and to walk. As a former elementary and pre-school computer teacher and graphic artist, she uses her computer skills to join in the conversation, using her I-Pad to speak. She is an amazing woman who still loves to laugh and enjoy the company of her family. I am glad for the exposure and awareness of ALS and for the funds that have been raised for research to find cure.
My long time heroine has been my sister in law, Andrea Kessler, an attorney. She is a 20 year survivor of a double transplant of a kidney and pancreas because of diabetes. This was the first double transplant in Florida. Very risky. Very experimental. Very trying on the body. Very scary. Andrea, her husband, Thomas Jordan, her mother and her sisters and fellow attorneys, Edwina and Paula, accepted the challenges given to Andrea. She had a second kidney transplant when the first transplanted kidney was failing. Now, by the grace of God and wonderful doctors, she is practicing full time as a partner at Catri, Holton, Kessler and Kessler P A.
Another heroine was Judge Susan Aramony. She battled health issues for many years. She continued to sit on the bench and address family law matters with great compassion and insight. She passed away about a year and a half ago.
I am inspired by these outstanding individuals. They have made the best of living with these terrible diseases. Catastrophic illnesses like these do not discriminate; they attack everyone, including attorneys. We all do the best we can with what is thrown our way and we go forward.
We can take heart and do what we can to help others that are struggling. We can get involved and donate to organizations that improve these conditions. Our immediate benefit is that good feeling we get when we help others.
At his farewell, on July 4, 1939, at Yankee Stadium, Lou Gehrig captured these sentiments in a succinct and sincere manner when he said:
“Fans for the past two weeks have been reading about the bad break that I got. Yet, today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
John G. Jordan
BCBA President 2014-2015