May is ALS Awareness Month, and it’s a time of year – and a cause – that hits really close to home. I lost my brother Jim to ALS in January of 2021. It was such a painful thing to watch someone I loved so much slowly lose his battle with life. Watching him decline was extremely difficult, but despite his suffering, his loss of mobility and his dignity, he never complained once. He had an incredible strength I admire.
I grew up in the Philly suburbs and am the seventh of eight children. Jim, being the eldest, was so much older than me – by 15 years – and I remember, like it was yesterday, him walking me to kindergarten on my first day. I was afraid to go by myself. He knew that and held my hand the entire way. Shortly thereafter he got married and moved out of the house limiting our time together. Still, he looked for opportunities. When I was ten, Jim took me to my first college football game, Penn State versus Temple. What a fun day that was! Later, I attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. The school was close to where Jim lived, and he would come visit often. That is when our friendship developed. When I was 37 my father passed. After that, Jim became a second father to me, giving me counsel and mentoring. He always gave me such good advice.
I hate that ALS took my brother. It’s such a cruel disease. I miss him tremendously and look forward to seeing him again one day. Until then, let’s unite and support research to find a cure.