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Lou Gehrigs Disease ALS: A Balancing Act

By Amy Sherwood

May is Lou Gehrigs Disease ALS Awareness Month. The following is an account of just one man’s life and the pursuit of his dreams.

The warm summer air weighs on Michael’s shoulders in a heavy wave of condensation. A quick breeze almost distracts him from the clammy skin tightening its grip on the inside of his t-shirt. He glances out onto the field to see the ball hiked and the quarterback move a few paces before hurling it towards the end zone. A successful receiver finishes the drill.

Coach Michael gingerly sets his silver whistle between his lips, giving two quick blasts, resulting in the team jogging over at half-pace, sweaty and tired. After a quick talk, they are dismissed to head home. Michael regrips the cane at his side and slowly makes his way to his office, already contemplating tomorrows practice.

Michael Ortega is living with ALS. He has proven, however, that a man is not his disease, and it does not stop him from living his dream daily.

Since a young age, football has enticed him. He played in college for a few years before heading back home to coach. He believes that football taught him to be the man he is today, and he wants to pass on the virtues of integrity, discipline, and teamwork to ensure a better world than the one he came into.

The never quit motto posted above his office epitomizes his life. He teaches his team that hard work and determination are important on and off of the field and that there is nothing holding them back but themselves. There should be no box that anyone allows themselves to be put into.

He leads by example, and wants to show his son that nothing can stand in the way of your dreams, but you. There are no limits to what can be accomplished if you just set your mind to it. Determination and optimism is key. In his words, though we cannot control the wind of our adverse conditions, we can adjust the sails.

The chaotic nature of life leads some to think that everything is random and that nothing matters. I believe though, that it is all intricately connected and interwoven. Your actions in the past have made you who you are today and will affect the world around you. Understanding that life is and always will be a temporary thing allows you to focus on the more important aspects of it while you are here.

Years ago, my eighth grade history teacher said to us, fill your dash. No one knows how long we have on this earth when we arrive. All that we can do with our time here on earth is to be the inspiration we wish to see in the world. Michael’s determination to be a positive force in the world around him draws people near him. His players look up to him and see him as something to emulate. He is an inspiration in his community and is doing all that he can to embrace and enjoy his time left.

You are not ALS, you are a person. A beautiful, sentient being with the power to overcome the hurdles and obstacles that threaten to label you. Be an inspiration to others, by being an inspiration to yourself.

Get information about Lou Gehrigs disease ALS now! David Jay lives with ALS and provides assistance, motivation, and information to individuals who need to overcome obstacles in their lives. Get more information when you visit today!

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Sherwood, Amy "Lou Gehrigs Disease ALS: A Balancing Act." Lou Gehrigs Disease ALS: A Balancing Act. 25 Jun. 2010. 3 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Sherwood, A (2010, June 25). Lou Gehrigs Disease ALS: A Balancing Act. Retrieved August 3, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Sherwood, Amy "Lou Gehrigs Disease ALS: A Balancing Act"

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