Minnesota Twins Organization Heroes to Local PALS
“He only practiced it once on the way in to the ballpark today,” proudly stated Joe and Erik Brandt, when asked if their father, Michael, had rehearsed Lou Gehrig’s famous “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech before reading it during the pre-game ceremony at Target Field in Minneapolis this June 10, 2011. Brandt was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) this past April.
Brandt flawlessly and purposefully read the famous first baseman’s speech from a microphone set-up near first base. In true Midwestern fashion, the crowd responded with more than simple applause but came to their feet to recognize 4♦ALS Awareness Day, an annual league-wide campaign organized in partnership with Major League Baseball. Afterward, Brandt made his way to Section 240, where a proud contingent of three generations of family members awaited him.
Alex Grausnick, who was diagnosed with ALS four years ago at age 17, also attended the game along with his father Scott, step-mother Dee Dee and Uncle Kurt. “It’s not easy living with ALS, but I’ve been fortunate so far that it’s been slow to progress. But I’m the exception, and seeing other people with ALS here tonight in wheelchairs, that’s very difficult for me to look at. But we’re all in this together, and although awareness is good, what we really need is more funding going to research so that maybe I don’t have to ever get into a wheelchair myself,” said the young man who is set to graduate from the University of St. Thomas next May with a degree in Finance and Spanish.
The weather didn’t hold up for the game, with serious downpours causing many in the two-season old open-air stadium to seek cover, but there was no stoppage of play. Instead this created an intimate atmosphere in a town where people seem to thrive on conversation with strangers while enjoying smoked turkey legs and local brews. The Twins fell behind their division rival, the Texas Rangers, early on in the second inning and never were quite able to catch back up. Thanks to the generosity of the Twins and MLB, nearly 100 people living with ALS (PALS), such as Scott Stafne and Michael Winston, along with their family members and friends were provided tickets to be part of the 4♦ALS Day.
The Rangers host their own 4♦ALS Day at Rangers Stadium in Arlington, Texas on July 28, 2011, against none other than the Minnesota Twins. Official 4♦ALS Awareness campaign partner, The ALS Therapy Development Institute, has organized 100 members of their local ALS community in Texas to represent for the cause at that game as well.