Henry Louis Gehrig has been my role model since I started playing baseball at age 5. A work ethic like no other and a true gentleman on and off the field, I always wished to be like Lou. When I was diagnosed at the age of eight I turned to the speech that Lou Gehrig made on July 4th, 1939. Many know part of the speech and many are probably thinking I'm turning to the speech to say "I'm the luckiest man on the face of the earth." That is not the case however, at the age of 8 after a week of being diagnosed with diabetes I said to myself "I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for."
It wasn't until six years ago that I truly understood what those words mean. After being diagnosed with ALS and unable to play baseball Lou Gehrig fought as hard as he could to live a normal life. He would become the New York City Parole Commissioner in January of 1940 and hold that position until May of 1941 just weeks before he passed away. He would turn down numerous speaking and appearance requests that offered large sums of money because he wanted to give back and help the city of New York. Gehrig, as always, quietly and efficiently performed his duties.
As I hit mile four of the marathon I will smile and remember the greatness of Lou Gehrig the person, that is the person I idolize, the person that had a work ethic like no other and no matter how he felt he did his job to the best of his ability. As far as saying diabetes was a bad break for myself, that couldn't be further from the truth. I have tweaked the Lou Gehrig "I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for." quote to the "Living with diabetes is a gift, it has taught me that if I work hard I can do anything."
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
"Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
"When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter - that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.
"So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for."
- Lou Gehrig